How to stay cool and save energy during heat waves
Use these simple, low-cost tips to stay comfortable and keep your energy bill in check (and even get paid!) during heat waves
The heat we’re feeling in California this month can sometimes feel unbearable, which complicates plans to conserve energy and keep power bills affordable. But the good news is, saving energy and staying cool at the same time is possible.
Here are a few ways to do both.
1. Get paid to use less power
Did you know that Californians have access to a program that will pay you to save energy during days when there’s extreme demand on the energy grid? It’s called OhmConnect.
Hundreds of thousands of Californians are signed up for the free, secure service that notifies you when there’s too much demand for electricity on the grid and then pays you if you can use less than your forecast.
Participating not only gives you a bit of extra spending money but it also means you’re helping avoid rolling blackouts like the ones we’ve seen this month.
Here’s a bit more about how it works:
2. Fans are your friend
Your air conditioner can be a life saver during extreme heat, but there are other, more affordable and planet-friendly ways to stay cool. Ceiling fans are a great option to complement your air conditioning. A typical high-efficiency central air conditioning unit uses approximately 3,500 watts of power, on average, when it’s in use. A ceiling fan on the other hand, uses approximately 50 watts and standing, plug-in fans are even less.
While you may still need air conditioning throughout your home, using a ceiling fan can help you feel cooler in the rooms where you’re spending longer periods of time, like a home office or a bedroom. With ceiling fans keeping you cool, you can raise the temperature of your AC, keeping it from kicking on as often and saving energy at the same time.
Remember - fans cool people, not rooms. The temperature inside the room won’t actually change but the breeze will keep you feeling more comfortable so there’s no need to leave a fan on in a room if you’re not in it.
Everyday cooling tips:
- Working from home more these days? Put your workspace in a cooler area of your home and use fans so you can leave your AC at a higher temperature.
- When shopping for ceiling fans, look for models that are ENERGY STAR certified. They’ll have better motor and blade design and will use 60 per cent less energy than standard models. As a bonus, ENERGY STAR-certified ceiling fans allow you to reverse the airflow direction, so you can use them during colder months too. Simply switching the direction the blades turn may help reduce your heating needs.
- Whatever the season, be sure to switch off the fan, or at least lower the speed, when you’re not in the room to save even more energy.
OhmHour cooling tips:
For those moments when you’ve flipped off your air conditioner and ceiling fan to earn maximum rewards during an OhmHour, you can:
- Close your curtains or blinds. Keeping the sunlight out will keep your home cooler than normal in the blazing hot sun.
- Wrap your wrists and neck with cool compresses.
- Eat a frozen treat. Got popsicles on hand? Snacking on something frozen and delicious will cool you down in no time.
3. Time for AC? Make a smart buying decision
If the time has come to invest in an air conditioning unit, don’t fret – it’s still possible to save energy – it’ll just take a bit of research. Along with central air conditioners, portable units, window units, and split ductless air conditioners are options that can suit any type of home.
As with ceiling fans, be on the lookout for the ENERGY STAR label on the air conditioner units you are considering. Most importantly, talk to a certified contractor who can help you determine what kind of unit will be best for your space and will allow you to save the most energy possible. Sizing, for example, is extremely important. A unit that’s too big for the space will be less efficient, costing you more money in the long run.
4. Invest in a smart thermostat
If you want to spend less time thinking about your home’s temperature – and who could blame your? – consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. This easy-to-install tech learns your schedule and habits and adjusts the temperature accordingly, so you can scratch another thing off your daily to-dos.
Extra earning tip:
Connect your smart thermostat to OhmConnect, so you can earn money for being more efficient. During times of extreme demand, OhmConnect will automatically adjust your thermostat settings and you’ll get immediate cash rewards for participating. Not convenient for your schedule? You can always opt out of any event if you’d like to keep your temperature as is, but chances are you won’t even notice the difference.
5. Switch up your summer menu
Give your stovetop and oven a break and try some new recipes. Take advantage of outdoor cooking with a barbecue instead of using heat-generating appliances indoors.
Don’t have a barbecue? No problem. Try cooking meals in batches. That way, you’ll only need to turn your appliances on once – saving energy and keeping your kitchen cooler.