Jul 25, 2011

How to Save Energy, Money and the Environment on Hot Summer Days

Energy consumption can spike during summer months, leading to power outages and increased air pollution

The simmering heat over the next several days means two things: unhealthy air quality and enormous energy demand. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are teaming up to give New Yorkers tips they can use to reduce energy use, air pollution and the chances of power outages.
Smog alerts have been issued for the entire greater New York metropolitan area and all of New Jersey and energy demand is expected to increase. During hot summer days, energy consumption can spike, which can lead to power outages. EPA and DEP are offering the following to people in the New York metropolitan area on no or low cost ways to cut energy demand:

  • Program your thermostat to work around your family’s summer schedule—set it higher when no one is home.
  • If you have a programmable window air conditioner, set it to go on just before you arrive home instead of letting is run all day long.
  • Don’t run air conditioners in empty rooms.
  • When possible, use a fan instead of the air conditioner.
  • If you have a heating ventilation and cooling system check your system’s air filter every month and change dirty filters.
  • Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze and raise your thermostat a couple of degrees. But remember, fans cool you, not the room. When you leave the room, turn off the fan.
  • Pull curtains and shades closed before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home.
  • Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when full and run it at night when energy demand is at its lowest.
  • Unplug all chargers and appliances when not in use.

Hot days also mean smog and poor air quality. Pollution from vehicles, industrial and commercial facilities combine and cook in the hot stagnant air and form smog. Smoggy days are particularly hard on people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, and the elderly.
Exposure to elevated ozone levels can cause serious breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. When smog levels are elevated, people should refrain from strenuous outdoor activity, especially sensitive populations such as children and adults with respiratory problems. To reduce your contribution to smog:

  • Car pool, use public transportation, or bike and walk.
  • Combine errands and avoid idling your car.
  • Keep tires properly inflated.
  • Fill up cars and trucks after dusk to reduce gasoline vapors.
  • Don’t use small gasoline powered engines, such as leaf blowers or lawnmowers.