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Archive for July, 2012

Much of the lower US is currently experiencing very hot weather. In some states temps are forecast in the triple digits. Here in Wisconsin, mid to upper 90s are forecast for much of the week. If you have air conditioning, you are probably tempted to turn it up, or leave it running continuously to stay cool and escape the heat. It is during these hot days that our electric power grid experiences peak demand, a phenomenon the utilities like to refer to when they tell us that they need to build another nuclear or coal fired power plant. There are a few things you can do and be conscious off during hot weather spells to minimize your load on the grid and to avoid contributing to peak demand:

  • Turn the temp on your AC up as high as you can handle, 78 is recommended but you might find that you are comfortable at 80 if you are just sitting around and watching TV or reading a book.
  • Minimize the work your AC has to do by lowering your shades to keep direct sunlight from heating up your house.
  • If nights are cool and humidity is low, turn off your AC and open your windows. Use window fans too draw in the cool air on the lower level and let hot air escape through higher windows or skylights.
  • Turn up the temp on your AC if you are going to be at work all day. Many healthy pets will do just fine if it is a little warmer. They mostly sleep while you are away anyway.
  • Don’t use your dryer during hot days, dry your clothes outside. It takes the same amount of time.
  • Shift other electric loads to night time, when the grid experiences less load, like washing laundry or baking.
  • If your water heater is electric, turn down the temp. Last thing you want on a hot day is a nice hot shower.

Our house doesn’t have air conditioning so we do some of these things to just keep the house cooler. We shut all windows during the day and lower the shades. We open up the house during the night with fans in 3 windows on the first floor and open the skylights. So far the highest interior temperature we’ve reached is 84 which is still at least 10 degrees cooler than the daily high. During the night we have been able to drop down to 76 – 78 degrees. If we had air conditioning, it wouldn’t have to work very hard to get down to 80 or even 78.

Roofing material and insulation are really big contributors to how cool your house stays. We have a metal roof, which reflects much of the sun and the wall insulation keeps the heat on the exterior.

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