Summer is here and the weather is heating up. After a long, cold U.P. winter, one would think residents wouldn't tire of the heat. Some days, however, having air conditioning or a good fan is a godsend and helps make those really hot days bearable.
Unfortunately, like heating a home, keeping a house cool costs money. Locally, the summer "cooling season" is starting at the same time as utility rate hikes in Escanaba will begin. On July 1, electric rates will go up by 4.75 percent. Wastewater rates are increasing 5 percent and water rates will be up 9 percent.
Traditionally, our area uses more electricity in the summer than any other time. All those Christmas lights don't use nearly as much electricity as a town full of air conditioners. Unfortunately, your electric bill is likely to grow as well.
To help lessen the blow of utility hikes and increased power use, be smart when cooling your home this summer. Here's some tips from DTE that may help you save money and keep cool:
Around the house
l Close blinds, shades and curtains to keep summer heat out.
l Keep the fireplace damper and doors tightly closed to prevent cooled air from escaping.
l Run the dishwasher in the cooler part of the day when the lower temperature can better offset the heat and humidity the appliance will produce.
l Set the air conditioner thermostat at the highest comfortable setting. When leaving home for more than five hours, raise the thermostat five to 10 degrees. Raising the thermostat just a couple degrees can cut cooling costs by as much as five percent.
l Regular maintenance is important to operating air conditioners efficiently. Check filters at least once a month. Dirty filters cause air conditioners to work harder and use more energy. Many filters can be removed, washed and dried, and reinstalled. Check the owner's manual or contact the manufacturer for more information.
l Keep air conditioning units free of obstructions, inside and out, so air can flow freely. Outdoor units should be free of bushes, and leaf and grass debris. Indoors, move furniture and draperies to prevent blocking window units, vents and air returns.
l Position window air conditioners on the shaded side of the house, away from direct sunlight. Window units generally are not designed to cool more than one room. Close the doors leading to uncooled parts of the house for more efficient cooling.
l In homes with central air conditioning, leave room doors and air registers open so the system can operate effectively.
l Make sure ceiling fan blades rotate clockwise in the summer months to draw cooler air up from the floor.
l A window fan in an apartment or one-story home should be put in a window on the warmest side of the structure; in a two-story home, put it in an upstairs window. Fans draw cooler air inside during the night and circulate air during the day. Make sure draperies are secured away from the fan for better air circulation and safety.
l Prevent heat build-up in the attic by opening attic vents and making sure any lower vents are not blocked. A cooler attic benefits the living area below. An exhaust fan or whole-house fan mounted in the attic will pull hot air out of the attic and living areas and draw cooler air in.
l Use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while cooking. The savings in your cooling costs will far outweigh the fan's electricity use.