By Ryan Cornell
According to the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, 44 percent of the average utility bill is spent on heating and cooling costs. Combined, all the heating and cooling systems in the U.S. emit more than a half-billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, states the cooperative's website.
Despite these statistics, it's easy to keep the home cool in the summer without cranking up the air conditioning. Mike Aulgur, electric cooperative spokesman, shared some tips for homeowners not only on how to save money on their electric bills, but also on how to help save the environment.
Close the blinds
Keeping the blinds or curtains closed during the day can keep out the sun and keep in the cool, Aulgur said.
Join the fan club
Using ceiling fans and portable floor fans to circulate air around the home might not actually bring down the temperature, but they'll make it feel cooler.
These fans do use electricity, Aulgur said, but they generally use less energy than a cooling system.
By establishing a greater barrier between the outside and indoors, homes can stay cooler more quickly and for longer periods of time.
"Obviously this might require a bit of an investment," Aulgur said. "But ultimately, it will pay off with decreased energy costs."
Similarly, trees can act as a sort of natural insulation, retaining heat in the winter and keeping it out in the summer.
Aulgur suggested that homeowners take a look at tree trimming practices to ensure that vegetation provides enough shade for the home.
Bump it up before you leave
There's no need to set the thermostat low to compete with the hottest part of the day if you're at work. Aulgur suggested that people dial back on the air conditioning while they're out of the house.
"If you have your temperature set at 68 throughout the day, maybe consider bumping it up in the morning before leaving for work or becoming active during the day," he said. "And then bump it back down when you get home."
Keep out the drafts
Aulgur recommended making sure there aren't any drafts leaking in from openings in the windows or doors.
These drafts of warm air can work against a cooling system and lead to higher electricity consumption costs.
Pull the plug
Homeowners could unplug any electrical items and appliances they're not using, said Aulgur.
Leaving chargers plugged into outlets still uses "some juice," he said, and can produce additional heat.
For more energy-saving tips, visit svec.coop.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org