Seems we were just hunkering down for cold weather and bundling into our big coats just last week. Well, come to think of it, it WAS last week—it got pretty darn cold here in the DC area a couple of nights back.
This might make you wonder when spring is going to get here. Good question. Even though the average temperature shows an upward trend over the weeks to come, we all know that temperatures bounce up and down a lot. Add to that the atmospheric instability that generates, and we get plenty of rain (and even severe thunderstorms) as well.
What does this have to do with energy? Everything. For one, home and business owners have to compensate for erratic, unpredictable changes in temperature and humidity. This means setting thermostats to a lower (or higher) baseline pretty much day to day; however, if you have a programmable thermostat, you can avoid that kind of close scrutiny of your home or business's heating and cooling.
I live in a condo, however, and our building has central heat and AC. This means that we are sometimes too hot and sometimes too cold, when that system doesn't adjust for the variations in climate outside. What can we do?
- Open the windows. It's old fashioned, sure, but it can balance out a room that is too warm or too cool very quickly (just make sure your heat or AC is off, so you don't waste power).
- Turn on fans. Circulating air can help keep a room more comfortable.
- Turn off incandescent lights- I don't know about you, but after we switched to compact fluorescent lights three years ago, we don't seem to have as much lighting-based heat in our place. Using compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) may help mitigate some of that heat accumulation, especially in the warmer months.
Anyway, until the weather settles down (and probably until we're in the early phases of summer), it'll be an ongoing battle against wasting energy by setting and re-setting our home heating controls. Keep an eye out for that and you may just save yourself some cash. And wouldn't you rather have the money to treat the family to ice cream, for instance, now that it's getting nice outside?
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