7 ways to use less energy when the weather warms

The temperature is rising, and that can be a good thing for those people who love long days of outdoor recreational activities. Sometimes, though, there can be too much of a good thing, and consistently hot temperatures may become uncomfortable and even dangerous. Finding ways to keep cool without spending a fortune or using a lot of energy is challenging but possible.

• Find your comfort zone

Determine an indoor temperature that works best for the household. Keep the thermostat set as high as possible to maintain that comfort level. If you will be out most of the day, set the programmable thermostat at a higher temperature, and then lower the temperature about an hour before you plan to return home. This reduces the number of hours the air conditioner is running.

• Keep curtains closed

Draw the blinds and close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the hottest times of the day. This prevents the interior of the home from heating up.

• Maintain air circulation

Invest in ceiling fans, which can move air through the home. This will help prevent pockets of hot air in certain spaces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, even in homes with air conditioning, ceiling fans enable homeowners to raise the thermostats on their AC units by about 4 F with no reduction in comfort. Attic fans can draw heat out of a home through vents, also helping to reduce indoor air temperatures. These devices can reduce reliance on air conditioners, especially on moderate days or cool nights.

• Cook outdoors

Put that backyard grill to good use. Plan meals around outdoor cooking so the ambient heat will stay outside and you will not have to turn on the oven or the stovetop. Include side dishes, such as salads, fresh vegetables and fruits or gazpacho, that can be served cold. If you must heat something indoors, try doing so in the microwave.

• Run appliances at night

Wait until the washing machine or the dishwasher is full before turning on the cycle. Temperatures are cooler at night, and you may not notice the extra heat in the home generated by such appliances. Consult your energy bill as well. Sometimes energy rates are lower in the evening than during the peak hours of the day.

• Line dry clothes

Maximize that fresh air and warm sun by hanging freshly washed clothes to dry outdoors. This also works for quickly drying swimsuits and towels used at the pool or the beach.

• Rely on natural light

In the summertime, the sun stays out longer, so you’ll be less reliant on electric energy to keep things illuminated. Spend more time outdoors so you can read, play or chat in the sunlight while keeping indoor lights off.

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