Chill out: Save energy while keeping cool

Last modified: Thursday, December 03, 2015
Summer is coming, and so too is the heat. The kind of heat that leaves people sitting around in gym shorts and sticking to leather couches.

No one enjoys this, and there are relatively easy and cheap ways to keep cooler at home – while saving a few bucks in the process.

Some are obvious, like turning off the lights when you leave a room. Others aren’t as obvious, like not using a humidifier at the same time as an air conditioner because the humidifier increases the cooling load.

“Some of it is intuitive but there are definitely some things that you don’t think of,” said Ron Ditman of the state Office of Energy and Planning. “There are tips out there that can help a lot.”

Turns out a lot of those tips involve air conditioners, the next best thing after an ocean breeze.

First, if you’re going to use an air conditioner, try a high efficiency one with an energy efficiency (EER) rating above 10.

As an alternative to air conditioners, consider using ceiling or table fans which use much less power, about the equivalent of a 100-watt light bulb. Energy Star appliances help you save money and energy on your cooling needs, and you’ll be doing your part to help use energy resources wisely.

Shut off air conditioners and leave the windows closed if you plan on being away from home for a long period of time.

Easy tips include closing blinds, shades or draperies during the hottest part of the day. Using mini blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40 to 50 percent, according to the state Office of Energy and Planning.

If you’re cooking indoors, use a microwave to prepare cold meals to avoid heating up the kitchen and adding moisture to the air.

When it comes to laundry, most of the energy used goes to heating the water. Wash with warm or cold water, and put up a clothesline to dry clothes.

Pumping water can also be a drain on electricity. When you brush your teeth or shave, shut the water off. Don’t wash your car or water your lawn when you don’t need to, either.

“The best way to get all the energy savings a homeowner can achieve is to have an energy audit of your house,” said Susan Chamberlain, the state’s consumer advocate.

Homeowners can request an audit through the nhsaves.com program.

“Then, after you make that call, lower the temperature of your hot water heater by turning the thermostat down to 120 degrees,” Chamberlain said.

This can reduce water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent.

For more information and more tips, visit the state Office of Energy and Planning’s website at nhsaves.com.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)