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The Green Life: Stay Cool, Save Energy

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June 27, 2008

Stay Cool, Save Energy

Girlwithfan Worried about your summer energy bills? Take a look at your thermostat--and start counting your layers. According to Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Temperatures indoors in most homes, public places, and commercial complexes are far beyond what you would consider optimal even in terms of human comfort." Pachauri spoke at a press conference today with Mary Nichols, whose California Air Resources Board just released a plan for lowering the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and Ray Lane, a managing partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

While the panel discussed a range of topics, the thermostat issue is one you can address today by making changes at home and talking with your facilities manager at work--especially if you're one of the shivering officeworkers who has helped drive up summer space-heater sales in recent years. (Tucked away under desks, they can create a fire hazard and increase your company's electricity costs.)

Cranking air conditioning and and space heaters simultaneously wastes energy, of course. But there are other reasons to resist Arctic-like air in the summertime. A Milwaukee mom explained her beef with A/C overuse in an editorial for the Journal Sentinel:

My summer wardrobe is three times better than my winter wardrobe. Summer clothes make me look and feel young and energetic. I should never have to wear the frumpy sweat pants and sweaters of my winters when it's 85 degrees outside. Universal fashion truth: Cold-weather clothing makes most of us look like big blobs.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has put together a comprehensive guide to reducing your need for air conditioning (while staying comfortable). Here are five easy ways to get started:

  1. Set the temperature up when leaving the house.
  2. Always keep all doors and windows closed when operating an air conditioner.
  3. Don’t cool unoccupied rooms (but don’t shut off too many registers either, or it will put pressure on the system).
  4. Minimize indoor humidity by running hot-water appliances in the evening and by showering with the exhaust fan on.
  5. If your room air conditioner has an outside air option, use it sparingly.

How will you stay cool this summer? Share your tips and ideas.

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