Here we are again in the heat furnace of the American summer, with scorching temperatures and high humidity pounding residents of the Midwest and South. According to reports this week from Reuters, 40 of the 50 states will face 90 to 100 degree temperatures in the last week of July. I know readers are keenly interested in making home improvements, but right now, some of you are interested only in staying cool and hydrated. That's why I'm writing about a subject you should appreciate: tips on reducing energy costs while staying comfortable and protected.
Mid-summer corrections in the way you use energy to cool your home actually center around taking measures to keep homes and offices energy efficient and comfortable before you add in the factors of running air conditioners.
Take preemptive green energy measures
Several years ago, Yahoo ran an energy-saver advisory, suggesting that homeowners air-dry their beach towels when coming in from the pool. The piece makes sense today, too. Think for a moment on how much power you use and how much heat you generate in your house when running dryers all day long.
The article sounded like a left-over energy conservation idea from the 1960s, suggesting homeowners run their shower water only when getting wet the first moment of the shower, and then once more to rinse off the soap. But when the temperatures are consistently in the high 90s and communities are threatening to enforce brownouts, any shortcuts you can take can help out before you get your water or power bill.
Remember, too, that televisions, computers, printers, and drip coffee machines all tap power and progressively add unwanted heat. Yahoo claims that computers use 75 percent of their power when the user thinks they're powered down in sleep or hibernating modes.
Save energy and greenbacks
The non-profit Consumer Energy Center (CEC) actually recommends preparing meals with microwaves during sweltering summer months because they don't add much heat, do the job quickly and are efficient cookers.
The center also recommends you save up dishes and wash them in the economy mode of the dishwasher rather than turning hot water on and off all day long at the sink. I was really surprised by that notion. If you have a spare fridge or freezer in the garage, you should consider retiring it for the summer. You can save between 10 and 20 percent of your total energy use that way, according to the CEC.
Everything here makes sense, unless you're too hot and crabby to care. Then you only have yourself to blame for your bills.