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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Air-Conditioning – Won't Live Without It

Five sure-fire tips for improving air-conditioner energy efficiency.

A new national survey shows that only 14% of Americans are willing to give up air-conditioning if they knew that doing so would hurt the environment.

The flip side of that: about 86% of Americans are telling us they just can't live without air-conditioning in summer.

Few of us live in environments where the air cools naturally in summer and is not humid and muggy. Air-conditioning is more than a convenience. Air-conditioning is a modern necessity.

But electricity powers our air-conditioners, and electricity does pollute. So, how can we best use our air-conditioners to keep pollution at a minimum?

Here are five sure-fire ways to better manage your air-conditioner without feeling muggy and uncomfortable.

  1. Set the thermostat of your air conditioner to 78 degrees. That may sound like it’s too high, especially in some areas of the country. But keeping your thermostat to 78 degrees will delay turning on the machine. And even a short delay can help reduce energy usage.
  2. Clean your air conditioner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and thoroughly clean you’re unit. Be sure to clear away leaves and other obstructions from outside condenser coils and grilles, and replace or clean the filters. Other tips: Make sure the fan spins freely. Oil the fan motor. Check duct insulation for tears and repair as needed.
  3. Use natural cooling in mornings. You can bring down the temperature in your home by opening windows early and allowing the cool morning air inside. Before the sun begins to bake the ground, however, close the windows and keep what cool air you’ve got.
  4. Shade out the sun. Draw draperies and shades, close shutters, or install awnings, solar screens, and reflective window screens to block out sunlight and heat. Even shading north windows, which are not directly affected by the sun, can help keep heat reflected from driveways, porches, and sidewalks.
  5. Avoid using heat-producing appliances inside. On hot days and nights, try to not use your big heat generating appliances, such as the oven or dishwashers. Wait until it's cooler. Hang your laundry outside instead of using a dryer. Cook outdoors or use the microwave.
Check out the press release about the survey.

The survey was conducted by the Shelton Group, an advertising agency located in Knoxville, Tennessee, that focuses on issues involving sustainability. The survey is conducted each year and is called the Eco-Pulse survey.

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