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Tips to stay cool and save energy


Bigger is not better when it comes to air conditioners

With temperatures expected to climb this month, Portland General Electric offers tips on ways to stay cool while still saving energy.

There are many ways to reduce the cost of keeping cool as temperatures rise or staying cool without the aid of an air conditioner. Residents can stay cool and trim summer electricity use by following these tips:

  • Open windows (upper stories are the safest) when it’s cool outside (at nights and early in the morning). Monitor outside temperatures; when it’s warming up and approaching 75 to 80 degrees, close windows and use an indoor fan (portable or ceiling). When the temperature inside your home becomes too warm, you may want to turn on the air conditioning to keep cool.
  • Setting the central air thermostat to 75 degrees (instead of 70 degrees) results in an estimated energy savings of 115 kilowatt-hours per month and an estimated monthly savings of $11.
  • If the temperatures stay relatively mild during the day, cooling with outside air may be all your home needs to stay comfortable.
  • Close curtains on sun-facing windows. Awnings help shade windows that face the sun too. Use white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • When cooling the whole house with an air conditioner, keep all windows and doors closed. When cooling a single room with a window unit, close all windows and doors in that room to keep the unit running more efficiently; open windows and doors in other parts of the house to take advantage of cool breezes. Be sure to dress as coolly as possible: shorts, short sleeves, sandals (no socks), etc.
  • When using air conditioning, avoid cooking with a stove or conventional oven as heat from these appliances reduces the ability to cool your house; instead use a microwave or barbecue outdoors.
  • Consider turning off the air conditioning and running a portable window fan overnight for 12 hours instead; for an average home with air conditioning, this results in an estimated energy savings of 335 kwh per month and an estimated monthly savings of $32.
  • Here are a few tips to keep an air conditioner running effectively:

  • Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean cooler when it comes to room air conditioners. In fact, a unit that is too large for the room operates less efficiently than one that is properly sized.
  • Don’t switch the unit off and on. Window units work best when left to run for long periods.
  • Don’t keep the unit running at the coldest setting. Set the thermostat as high as is comfortable.
  • Don’t put lamps or TVs that emit heat near the air conditioner thermostat.
  • Use interior fans to circulate cooled air more effectively through the house.
  • Clean or change furnace/air conditioner filter every three months.
  • Seal leaks in heating/air conditioning ducts (insulate ducts where necessary).
  • Those who are shopping for new forced-air systems are encouraged to compare energy costs; look for Energy Star logos on the most efficient models and then compare costs, which are located on the yellow EnergyGuide labels.

    Those who are thinking about installing air conditioners should also consider heat pumps. According to PGE, an energy-efficient heat pump is the most efficient way to heat and cool homes.

    Residents stay comfortable year-round and use up to 40 percent less electricity to heat their homes. When buying central air conditioning systems or heat pumps, customers should be sure to get the right sizes for their homes.