Are you ready for a blistering heatwave? 8 Ways to Stay Cool

The Choose Energy Team
By The Choose Energy Team August 18th, 2015

Summer is a glorious time of year, but it looks like the dog days of summer are going to be relentless and keeping cool can be costly. The air conditioner is cranked 24/7, the fridge runs overtime so the ice pops don’t melt, and energy usage soars. It puts a heavy strain on the power grid, which can lead to blackouts, not to mention your utility bills.

So what can you do to cut down on late summer electric bills and pocket the savings? To find out, we consulted some energy-saving experts who gave us some simple, practical tips.

texas weather

1. Use ceiling fans to reduce reliance on air conditioning

“We highly recommend customers use ceiling fans, then turn up the thermostat 2 to 4 degrees,” said Femi Sonoiki, who’s a project engineer for AEP Energy, an independent power company that serves the Chicago area. Ceiling fans use less power than air conditioning window units, central AC or a central system’s vent fan, and the moving air cools us by evaporating the moisture from our skin.

“Ceiling fans can lower cooling costs by 14%,” said Kristinn Leonhart, a spokesperson with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. But, she added, “remember to turn the ceiling fan off when you leave the room — ceiling fans cool people, not rooms.”

2. Weatherize your home

 “One of the best things you can do is weatherize your home by sealing up the gaps in your doors and windows with caulk or weather strips,” Sonoiki said. It helps prevent warm air from leaking into your house in the summer, and in winter it keeps the heat from escaping.

3. Open the refrigerator door less often

The more that door opens, the harder your refrigerator has to work to keep things cold. So don’t keep the fridge open while you stare inside wondering what to eat. Close it while you unpack more groceries, and don’t stand next to the open freezer sneaking extra spoonfuls of ice cream.

4. Shop around and consider switching your energy supplier

Many states in the US have deregulated energy, which means you can do some comparison shopping for the best power plan using a FREE online marketplaces such as Choose Energy. Review prices for energy plans available to you or switch to a green energy supplier, or lock in a long-term rate.

5. Choose Energy Star-certified appliances

Sonoiki and Leonhart both emphasized the importance of using energy-efficient appliances with EPA Energy Star certification. They can increase your energy efficiency by 30% for an AC system and 60% for a ceiling fan.

6. Replace your old incandescent light bulbs

 “Old incandescent bulbs make more heat than light,” said Leonhart. Energy Star-certified CFL or LED bulbs emit 70% to 90% less heat, use much less energy and also last a lot longer. When first introduced, they were more expensive, but low-priced LEDs are now widely available.

Dimmers are also helpful. They work with some energy-saving bulbs and all incandescent ones, letting you use only as much light as you need. On that tip, here’s an easy one: Don’t forget to switch off the lights when you leave a room.

7. Save on energy when no one’s home

When you leave home, turn off the fans and punch up the thermostat. According to Leonhart, raising the temperature seven degrees when no one’s home and four degrees at bedtime during the summer can also result in big energy savings.

woman with fan

8. Don’t stay home — enjoy your city’s summer pleasures

One of our favorite energy-saving ideas came from Evelyn Keolian, a children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. “Get out of the house and conserve energy,” she said. “Summer is the best time to take advantage of the outdoors in Chicago.” She said she loves the street festivals, biking along the lake, and one of the best events of a Chicago summer: free movies in the park.

And here’s one more idea inspired by our energy-aware librarian: When you do spend time at home, turn off the TV and relax with a good book.

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