July 31, 2019

Riding out a heat wave? Follow these tips to save energy and stay cool

Oppressive heat has scorched nearly every part of the U.S., from California to Maine, at one time or another this summer.

Along with humidity and sweat, heat waves can bring higher energy bills. You may not be able to completely offset the increase in your power bill that often comes with hot weather, but you can mitigate it by taking these energy-saving steps with your other appliances.

Refrigerator: Are you reaching for a cold drink, popsicle or ice cream to cool down? Limit how often and for how long you open the refrigerator and freezer doors. And if you’re storing foods that you recently cooked, allow them to cool fully before putting them in the refrigerator. Both of these steps will stop your refrigerator and freezer from having to work harder to maintain the proper temperatures. Are you running a separate, older refrigerator in your garage or basement? You may want to reconsider. A refrigerator that is 15 years old or older uses twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR model. And if it’s in the garage during hot weather, it has to work even harder to keep the contents cool.

Clothes washer: Most energy used during a wash cycle goes toward heating water. When appropriate, use cold water and run a full load, or set the washer’s water use to a level appropriate for the size of the clothing load.

Clothes dryer: Run your dryer at night or during off-peak hours, when electricity rates may be lower. Dry clothes at low-to-medium temperatures. Clean your filter after each load to improve the dryer’s efficiency and reduce drying time.

Dishwasher: Wash dishes at night or other off-peak hours, when temperatures drop and electricity rates may be lower. If your dishwasher has an air-dry option, use it. Only run the dishwasher when it is full.

Oven and range: If possible, limit cooking to the cooler evening hours to avoid raising the indoor temperature. Use pots and pans appropriately sized for your burners. A heat wave might be a good time to give induction cooking a try, as induction units heat only the pan and what’s in it, not the burner or air around it. That means much faster heating times.

Room and portable air conditioner use tips

Room and portable air conditioners become everyone’s favorite appliance when temperatures climb into the triple digits. Air conditioning is something many take for granted, until it breaks down. Take all cleaning and maintenance steps recommended by your unit’s use-and-care manual before the heat wave hits.

Here are some tips to ensure your cooling appliances provide you with maximum relief from the heat:

Don’t turn your air conditioning temperature too low: Instead of pushing the AC unit to the highest level, pick a comfortable temperature and set your AC there. If you use a setting that is too cold for the room size, you may be adding more moisture than needed. Turn the AC temperature up at night when the outside temperature drops. Move the temperature up if you will be out of the room for a while.

Position your unit properly: Keep your AC unit out of direct sunlight and pull shades and curtains to keep as much sun as possible out of the room.

Keep your unit clean: Clean or replace the unit according to the directions in the use and care manual.  Clean coils and vents periodically using a plastic scrub brush. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to get rid of any leftover dirt.

Keep the portable AC hose straight: Any kinks in a portable air conditioner’s hose can reduce the unit’s efficiency. Hoses should be kept as straight as possible.

Supplement central AC with portable or room units: Is there an area in your house where you need extra cooling? Consider adding a portable or room air conditioner to keep temperatures comfortable.

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