Residential air conditioning in the US has become the norm for all except the poor. By now there's probably more tons of cooling capacity per household than there are flat screen TV's. Air conditioning use has always been highest in the coal-reliant Southern states, where it gets hot and stays that way for longer periods. Climate change, coupled with continued economic development and population growth, may intensify this need. For example, "As Georgia experiences unrelenting soaring temperatures, Georgia Power has met three straight days of record-breaking demand for electricity with a new record of 18,216 megawatts (MW) set on Wednesday."
Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary company, recently suggested some energy saving tips for its customers, via press release. We've included the list below, highlighting in bold the suggestions we've not emphasized on TreeHugger before. We think you'll agree that a whole lot of human behavior will have to be relearned to accomplish these ideas consistently, meaning its not just about buying more high tech stuff. You can't fully buy your way out of inefficiency, even if you have great wealth. The lifestyle equation demands behavior change for everyone.
Tell us what you think should be added to the list.
-- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher and leave it there. For every degree below that setting, you'll use 3 to 5 percent more electricity. For example, the savings is about $4 per degree for the average monthly residential bill for cooling only (based on 2,400 sq. ft. home). A customer raising the thermostat from 73 to 78 degrees would save $20 per month on their average monthly bill of $95 to $120 during the summer, or about 17 percent.
-- Set the thermostat even higher when at work or away from home for long periods of time, but no more than five degrees higher.
-- Change or clean your air conditioner filter regularly to maximize the unit's cooling potential. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.
-- Adjust your ceiling fan to turn counterclockwise in the summer.
-- Check your windows and doors for a tight fit. Apply weather stripping or caulking if needed.
-- Clear outside units of plants or brush so they can "breathe."
-- Increase attic insulation, which can save up to 30 percent on cooling and heating costs.
-- Insulation is measured in R-value, which is a measure of resistance to heat flow. So the higher the R-value, the better the insulation value.
-- Experts recommend you use an R-value of R-30 in ceiling areas.
-- Use fans whenever possible. Install ceiling fans (clockwise rotation) in the rooms you use most.
-- Purchase a higher SEER-rated unit when replacing cooling equipment or a heat pump. The higher the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating), the more efficient the unit. Experts recommend a 12 SEER.
Cool kitchen tips
-- Whenever possible, cook a lot of meals at the same time. This uses less energy than when you cook each meal separately.
-- If you're baking, avoid opening the oven door. This lets out 20 percent of the heat. Use a cooking timer instead.
-- Use pots and pans that match the size of the burners on your stove. This allows more heat to the pan and less heat will be lost to surrounding air.
-- Try to use the range instead of the oven. Or better yet, turn on the microwave or use a pressure cooker. Both use less power than a standard electric range.
Using the refrigerator
Refrigerators run all the time. But if you don't watch how you use and
maintain it, you could increase your power bill.
-- Choose the right size refrigerator for your needs. Larger models use more energy. Open and close the refrigerator door quickly. Know what you want before opening the door.
-- Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Check it by closing a piece of paper in the door, half in and half out. If you can pull the paper out easily, you may need to make some adjustments or replace the seal.
-- Keep your food covered. Moisture buildup in the refrigerator makes the
air inside harder to cool.
It's convenient and quick, but running the dishwasher all the time can
add up on the power bill.
-- Run the dishwasher, dryer and the stove after the sun goes down to avoid adding heat to your house during the hottest part of the day.
-- When using the dishwasher, turn off the drying cycle if you don't need dishes right away.
-- Wait until the dishwasher is full before running it. Partial loads can use just as much water and power as a full load.
-- Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher so you don't have to rinse them. If they need rinsing, use cold water.
You've heard it before, but one of the best ways to save energy is to
turn off lights when you're not using them. Never leave too many on when you're away from home.
-- Use fluorescent lighting when possible. They last about 10 times longer than incandescent lamps. And they can produce four times more light than standard incandescent lamps, for the same amount of energy.
-- Use one large bulb instead of several small ones in areas where bright light is needed.
-- Use smaller lamps in work areas, like sewing areas and computer desks, so you don't light the entire room.
-- Do some decorating. Lighter-colored walls, drapes, blinds and upholstery reflect light. Dark colors absorb heat and require more artificial light.