Save energy and stay cool as summer gets hotter

Kevin Orsinger |

This summer has been a hot one, and August will be even hotter. As you fight to stay cool, you might see your energy costs rise. There are a few easy things you can do to help you keep your energy costs low and keep yourself cool as the days get warmer.

One of the first things you should do is check your air conditioning. A professional can check it thoroughly, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you keep it running well. Vacuum your air vents and make sure they’re not blocked by furniture or other objects. Don’t put lamps or televisions near your thermostat because the thermostat will sense their heat and potentially cause your AC to run longer than necessary. Finally, replace your air filter on a regular basis.

Be strategic with your thermostat. It’s recommended that you set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher in the summer. That might not always be possible, but you can raise your thermostat when you aren’t home – or turn off your AC completely. Running a fan is much cheaper than AC; they don’t provide cooling, but if you run a fan with an air conditioner you can set the thermostat 4 degrees higher with no reduction in comfort.

Close your blinds or curtains to keep out the sun on south- and west- facing windows. North-facing windows produce very little heat, so you can leave these open for natural light. Washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, and your oven produce a lot of heat – cut back by hang drying your clothes, running full loads of clothes or dishes whenever possible, and cooking on the stovetop or outside on your grill to keep your house cooler. You can also run these appliances late at night or early in the morning when temps are coolest. Anything you plug in can be unplugged when it’s not in use – even small appliances produce heat in the wiring, so unplugging, rather than turning off, will help cool your house. Each device isn’t much, but together they can lower the indoor temp several degrees.

Fall is coming, but not without a few more warm months. Here’s to saving energy, saving money, and staying cool!