Regardless of folks’ wider views on climate change, there is universal agreement when it comes to one change in climate: it’s going to get hotter. It’s one climate change that happens every summer.
For the moment, the experts who monitor patterns of energy usage aren’t making predictions about whether this summer will see local energy prices rising or falling (the Department of Energy will only venture that “prices change rapidly”). But the DoE is more enlightening about the cost of cooling. It’s bound to add significantly to most homeowners’ utility bills. If prices do, in fact, “change rapidly” in the wrong direction, the DoE’s tips for simple ways to cut energy usage will be timely. Here are their Top Four:
Deal with the windows. When the temperature rises, everyone automatically ducks away from windows that catch direct sunlight. Choose window treatments and coverings that save on electricity by letting some natural light inside while dramatically cutting heat (and the energy it takes to combat it).
Deal with the thermostat. If your existing thermostat is an old-fashioned model that only allows a single setting, change out to a programmable one that lets you program warmer temperatures when no one is home. In any case, resist the temptation to set the temperature very low to cool things down rapidly—it doesn’t work any faster but can wind up cooling excessively.
Deal with the Fans. Ceiling fans create a “wind chill” effect that lets people feel cooler without affecting temperature—so turn them off when nobody’s going to be around to benefit. And when you shower or take a bath, do use fans that vent to the outside—they lower temperature and humidity throughout much of the house.
Deal with A/C. For window and split AC units, keep the intake filters clear throughout the summer. For central A/Cs, vacuum the intake grids—and keep lamps or TVs that generate heat well away from the thermostat to prevent the system from running longer than necessary.