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Gert’s Dirt: Saving energy and the environment this summer

From Donna Bellino

Last winter’s bitter cold hit hard and some of us are just now getting caught up on energy bills. Summer weather gives us a break and good chance to think of ways to conserve. Conservation saves money and can help save the environment too, and although June has been cool and damp, thinking about ways to reduce energy use now will help when the hot weather finally arrives.

Here are some suggestions to keep your house cool as temperatures rise:

• Pull the shades to keep the sun from warming the room.

• Cool the house down at night and early in the morning with a box fan in the window. By opening a window on the opposite side of the house, cool air will be drawn in and warm air will be pushed out.

• Turn your ceiling fan blades to spin in the proper direction for summer use. When you feel the breeze from the fan, you know you have it right!

• If you use a window air conditioner, block any spaces through which warm air enter or cool air escape. It’s also advisable to keep your air conditioner’s filter clean.

• If you have central air, consider a programmable thermostat. Have the thermostat set to start cooling the house an hour before you usually arrive at home. The cat won’t mind if it gets a little warm and stuffy in the house while you are at work.

• Adding insulation to the attic and walls of your home can keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, helping you save money all year.

• Still hot? Do activities outdoors. When you are active indoors, you generate heat that warms your home.

• Unplug everything. Many of the chargers that plug into phones, computers or other electronic devices, use electricity, even when not in use. This is sometimes called “phantom energy.” Televisions, DVD players, coffee pots and power tools can draw power when not in use also. Unplugging= cost and energy savings.

• Have you considered washing your laundry in cold water and line-drying clothes rather than using your dryer? The dryer gives off considerable heat that you don’t need released into your home. Line-dried clothes smell so fresh, too!

• Instead of heating up the kitchen by using the dishwasher, you may want to wash your dishes by hand. There is no real evidence proving that hand- washing dishes saves energy, unless you wash in warm water and rinse in cold. So if you prefer using the dishwasher, I suggest turning off its heated drying option and air drying the dishes after you run the washer.

• If you are in the market to buy an appliance, be sure to look for energy efficient models. Energy Star ratings were developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in 1992. Appliances that bear the Energy Star mark generally use 20-30 percent less energy. Another bonus is that our local Cooperative Light and Power has a $75 rebate available on new Energy Star refrigerators and freezers if you recycle the old one. Can’t beat that!

• Another way to conserve is to switch to energy saving light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamp bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. It is said that if every household replaced one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, the energy saved could light 300 million homes for an entire year! These bulbs may be a bit more expensive to buy but they last 10 times longer than old fashioned bulbs.

• Get the family involved in conservation efforts, too. Talk to the members of your household about shutting off lights and the TV when they leave the room. Outdoors, motion activated sensors on outdoor lighting or solar powered lights can make a difference

Global warming and concern about carbon emissions is in the news nearly every day. We should all be aware and act as good stewards of our environment. Decreasing energy consumption helps our pocketbooks and keeps us cool. It also helps keep our world healthier. Stay well!

Donna Bellino is a Registered Nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141