Reduce energy consumption to save money while keeping cool

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/KSNW) — Mega-heatwaves have baked the country this season, with some forty-million people experiencing spikes into the triple digits. Some areas in the western U.S. saw temperatures 15-to-20 degrees above average over the past week, complicating drought and energy shortages.

In Massachusetts, energy consumption is approximately 40% greater during the hot summer months. If you’re not conserving energy, the temperatures may not be the only thing rising—so could your energy bill if you’re trying to beat the heat. To keep your bill low, try keeping your air conditioner setting as warm as possible. For every degree higher on the thermostat, the air conditioner will use 1% to 3% less electricity.

“Our advice is maybe to start out at about 78 degrees and see how that feels for you and your family, just find that balance between energy efficiency and comfort at home,” said Gina Penzig, a utility provider in the Midwest. “You can opt to have sandwiches or salads for dinner and not turn the stove on during that hottest part of the day, waiting until later in the day to do your laundry and to do dishwashing things like that.”

Keep blinds closed when it’s hot out to prevent unwanted heat from entering a home through windows. Using curtains, shades, and blinds can lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees. Penzig said you should lower your blinds and shut the vents in rooms you don’t use, but don’t turn off your AC while you’re away. “It’s going to be a lot of strain on your unit and it is not cost-effective,” she said. 

Taking it outside your home, you can use a hose to cool off the siding and roofing. Still, “It’s gonna be a quick temporary fix for sure,” said David Becker, who’s in housing and construction. That method is both too labor-intensive and resource-intensive for short-term relief.

If you plan to nail down some home upgrades this year, Becker said you could cut the cooling cost long-term by choosing lighter colored siding for your home and buying energy-efficient windows. As for window tinting, Becker says to think again. “They really don’t work that well and they usually peel off, so I wouldn’t recommend that,” he said.

It’s not easy to stay cool while keeping your electric bill low. Check out some more guidelines to get frugally frigid:

  • Don’t block airflow. Keep air vents clear of obstructions such as furniture, curtains, and rugs. For those with central air and floor vents, consider using vent deflectors to direct and increase the reach of cooled air.
  • Operate major appliances during the cooler parts of the day. Energy is conserved by using appliances like clothes washers and dryers early in the morning or late in the evening when there is also less demand on the electric system.
  • Switch to LED lights. The energy-efficient bulbs run cooler and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lights.
  • Set ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise and at a higher speed in the summer to circulate the breeze more effectively, creating a cooling, wind chill effect.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® rating when purchasing new appliances. Also, be sure to choose the right size when purchasing an air conditioning unit. An oversized or undersized AC unit is less effective and wastes energy.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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