Get Ready for a Hot Summer

From Scott Carlberg

“Temperatures are forecast to be hotter than average in the East this summer,” says the National Weather Service. This map shows the forecast for the nation. Yes, the Carolinas are in the hot part of the map.

While the Summer Solstice is June 21, the meteorological summer, the season unofficially starts after Memorial Day. Right now.

Image: NOAA

Get ready for heat and using more electricity. For air conditioning, for instance. Almost 90 percent of US homes have some sort of cooling capability. School kids are out for the summer, and likely cranking up the AC.

All the more reason to look at ways to save electricity in the summer.

Here are a few tips.

  • Programmable thermostats help you stay disciplined with your cooling. Keep temperature settings at their set points for eight hours of longer, like when people are at work.
  • Window treatments. Draw shades and blinds drawn during the day to block the sun.
  • Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners. The breeze helps you feel cooler. Only use ceiling fans when a room is occupied.
  • Indoor heat. Avoid usingheat-producing appliances, like a stove. New LED lights do not put out heat like old incandescent bulbs. Roughly 90% of the energy incandescent bulbs use is given off as heat.
  • AC maintenance keeps the units running smoothly. That means changing air filters, too.

Carolina Country, the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives magazine, recently looked closer the importance of ductwork in central AC systems:

Well maintained ductwork helps cool air get to the home

  • Ductwork is equally important as the A/C unit, so make sure the contractor you choose is capable and willing to provide an expert assessment. A real pro will know how to measure the air flow at each supply and return register. If you’re not getting cool air to the rooms that need it, the contractor may be able to make modifications to the ductwork.
  • Leaky ductwork can also be a problem. If the ducts are in unconditioned areas like a crawl space or attic, it’s especially important to make sure they’re sealed and insulated. It will also help to seal ducts that are in conditioned spaces.
  • Some HVAC contractors can do a duct-blaster test to measure duct leakage. Discuss whether you should ever close any supply registers. Most experts recommend that supply registers are always open.

Photo from Coumbia (TN) Fire and Rescue, appearing in The Daily Herald May 27, 2019

Cooling a home safely and efficiently using window units takes planning. Just this Monday a house fire in a Tennessee home was claimed to be caused by a window AC unit. The fire chief stressed the need to properly maintain AC units – both central and window units. (Source)

Carolina Country looked at window units, too. From the magazine, in part:

  • Make sure you have the right-sized unit for the size of the room. A unit that’s too big will cool the room before the humidity has been lowered, which will make it feel less cool, while a unit that’s too small will have to work harder, causing a shorter life span — and it may not do the job.
  • Use an electric fan or ceiling fan to help distribute the cold air throughout the area you are cooling.
  • Turn off the A/C unit when no one is in the room.
  • If your window A/C unit isn’t cooling properly, it may need to be replaced. Look for an Energy Star-certified unit to make the most of your cooling dollars.

We have been warned – it will likely be a hot one this summer. Let’s be cool about it.