One for the pleasures of living in a northern climate is the spring ritual of turning off the furnace. As we celebrate the return of warmer, sunnier days, many of us also enjoy a slight decrease in our utility bills. More hours of daylight and more time outdoors means less time at home with the lights on, running energy-hungry appliances.
Nonetheless, summer in Ottawa Valley can be scorching hot, and most homes in the area are now built with central cooling to help us beat the heat. Summer heat waves can put a strain on the power grid and your wallet. Here are some ways to conserve energy while your keep cool this summer:
Be Thermostat Smart
Adjust the thermostat on your air conditioning unit depending on the traffic patterns in your home. Set your unit to between 25C and 27C when the house is occupied, and to a slightly higher temperature if you are going to be away for four hours or more. If you have central air, a programmable thermostat will make it easier to stick to these guidelines. And, of course, never run the air conditioner when windows are open.
Use Fans Strategically
Remember that fans do not actually cool the air; they just make us feel cooler by creating a breeze. Fans should mostly be pointed at people, using the breeze to cool down, and they shouldn't be run in empty rooms. The exception to this rule is when (and if) the outdoor temperature cools off after dark, you can put fans by open windows to draw cooler air indoors.
Light Is Heat
Keep shades and curtains drawn during the warmest hours of the day and whenever you're not home so your AC unit does not have to compete with the warming power of sunlight. Even certain lightbulbs can increase ambient temperature, so turn off the lights or change to energy efficient LEDs, which do not emit heat.
Keep the Kitchen Cool
On especially warm days, cook outside or enjoy lighter, uncooked meals, like salads. Save baking for cooler days, and use other heat-producing appliances, like the oven, dishwasher, and dryer, sparingly or not at all. A clothesline is a great way to take advantage of warm weather to save on energy costs.
Maintain Your AC Unit
Make sure your air conditioner has an EnerGuide rating of SEER 17.0 or higher, and that it is the right size for the space you are cooling. Change the filter regularly and have it serviced regularly according to manufacturer's instructions.
We wait all winter for the summer heat - so enjoy it! But on the season's hottest days, use your air conditioning wisely to keep your home comfortable and your family safe and healthy.