The Weather Has Been Hot....
By Tim Darst, Executive Director of Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, a KySEA group member.
The weather has been the hot topic (pun intended) of many of our conversations these days, so it seems an appropriate time for me to talk about air conditioning. The power plants are going full steam to produce enough energy to power all the AC we are demanding. Finding ways to reduce our energy used for air conditioning can help reduce the air pollution and save money at the same time.
Turning the thermostat up a few degrees is too obvious and often contentious so I won’t even mention it. Instead let’s look at AC competition. There are many things that are trying to heat up our house while the AC is trying to cool it, like appliances and windows. These cause the condenser to run longer.
Here are some of my suggestions: Try running your washer, washing machine and dryer at night instead of during the day. These appliances put off heat that not only competes with the AC, but uses electricity during the peak production hours. If you can, dry your clothes outside on a clothes line. Avoid using the oven if possible. Heat things up using a microwave instead, or grill outside. My neighbors have a portable single burner that they put on their patio to cook with. Unplug computers, cell phone charges, televisions and other devices that can put off heat even when turned off. Don’t use incandescent bulbs; they really put off some heat! Turn off any lights you really don’t need. Closing blinds and curtains to keep the sun out can make a big difference. Have awnings installed. When you take a shower run the exhaust fan to get rid of the humidity. Likewise the fan on your stove top can expel the heat while cooking. Using ceiling fans can circulate the air and make it feel cooler. Dress down to stay cooler. Drink lots of cold drinks and don't do things that require a lot of physical activity. Here’s your permission to relax. Take cold showers. Before it gets hot, clean your air filters so that your AC runs efficiently. Keep plants and debris from accumulating close to your central AC unit outside your house. It needs room for air to flow.
Here are some more radical ideas if you’re up to it: Buy a solar oven to cook with. Open the windows at night when it cools down then seal in that cool air before the day heats up and avoid the AC all together. Turn off the AC and spend your time at cool places away from the house like swimming pools, coffee houses or the library. Put shutters on the outside of your windows to keep the sun out. Plant shade trees on the south side of your house. Shade your AC condenser, it runs better when not sitting in the blazing sun. Install solar panels on your roof to provide shade while creating clean energy.
Good luck and stay cool!