Save some energy

| June 18, 2008 @ 12:23 pm | 15 Replies

No matter what you think about global warming, saving some energy makes sense, especially when it comes to saving money. Being a meteorology person, I’ve come up with some common sense ways of saving energy, from electricity to gasoline. Some of these I’ve heard from others.

1. Let in cool air when it’s available. Nights like tonight, when it could easily be in the 60s before 10 pm, think about letting the outside air cool your home. If you have window screens or even screen doors, and there are no issues with outside air (allergies, pollution), opening up the windows for an hour or so before going to bed can eliminate the need for air conditioning on a night like this, and if your house cools down enough, it may also reduce your need for air conditioning the next day. This works on a lot of nights in April and October.

2. On hot days, close the blinds and/or curtains on south-facing windows before you leave for work. This keeps solar radiation from heating your home like it does your car.

3. Even if you don’t have a thermostat with a timer, turn it up a little, even 2 or 3 degrees, while you’re gone to work. This will keep it from coming on for a while, and once it does, it won’t have to run as much. The heat coming into your home is proportional to the temperature difference between your home and the outside air. So, when it’s 95 outside, your air conditioning will only have to run 75% as much when your house is 80 as it does when your house is 75.

The idea that it will have to run just as much overall to catch up when you get home is not thermodynamically sound.

4. Cook outside more on hot days. All that heat produced by your oven or range has to be removed by the air conditioner.

5. Run the exhaust fan (if you have one) in the bathroom while taking a shower, and in the kitchen while cooking indoors. Moisture condenses in your air conditioner and releases latent heat, so the drier the air is in your house, the less it has to run to maintain the same temperature.

6. Use the hair dryer sparingly on hot days.

7. Close off unused rooms and close the vents. As pointed out by Don Hooks, father-in-law and engineer, closing off 25% of your house won’t reduce your cooling bill by 25%, since there is no insulation between rooms, but it will still reduce your cooling bill somewhat (maybe 15% or so).

8. Try to only run the dishwasher and clothes washer when they are fairly full.

9. Drive a little slower. The air resistance on your vehicle, which is one of the main factors that causes fuel usage once you’re at a constant speed, is proportional to the square of the air speed. So, you get 60% more air resistance at 70 mph than at 55 mph, even though you’re only going 27% faster.

10. Limit use of drive throughs at banks and fast food places. Sitting in line for 10 minutes with the engine and air conditioning running burns a significant amount of gasoline.

11. Roll the windows down and let the 150 degree air out of your car when you first get in. This limits the load on the air conditioner, and saves gasoline.

If you have any other ideas to save gasoline or energy, comment!

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