When the Weather Heats Up…

I’m a glutton for energy use.

In Tucson, it has started to feel like summer has already begun. Yesterday I went swimming in Romero Pools, wearing a tank top and shorts. And just in case you weren’t sure, it’s only March.

When I came home from the day-long hike, I quickly flipped the switch on the air conditioning unit to cool off my sweltering house. I hung on the refrigerator door and stared for a few minutes, basking in the cold air. I stood underneath the vent in my room that blasted cold air.

Starting the air conditioner in March didn’t really faze me at first. When the temperatures blast over 90 degrees, I just want to be cool!

But then I thought about the energy I was already consuming just by flipping that switch.

As we use more and more electricity, were killing our planet.

As we use more and more electricity, we're killing our planet.

Up to half of your energy bill can be from air conditioning and heating, especially in states with extreme temperatures, like Arizona.  If you have an older air conditioning unit, the cost can be up to 20 percent higher. With two-thirds of all homes in the U.S. having some type of air conditioning unit, the energy used will just continue to skyrocket.

As the temperatures continue to increase this year, steps to decreasing your energy use could save you money and decrease the carbon dioxide emissions in the ozone. Buying a newer and more efficient unit can reduce the amount of energy used in your household by up to 50 percent per year

One of the biggest steps you can take is to make sure that your units match Energy Star regulations. If you have a unit older than 10 years old, you probably don’t meet those standards. Even if it is not that old, the new units made in the past few years are much more efficient than before. Check the standards for air conditioning units on this government Web site, and see the regulations and numerical values for the units to follow. I won’t bore you by listing them here.

If it’s not in your budget this year to change the entire unit or if you rent the place you live in, there are still steps you can take so that you’re not like me and end up wasting energy and hurting the environment with air conditioning gluttony.

While air conditioning feels great at those low, low temperatures, the suggested temperature to keep your unit set at is 78 degrees or higher. Experts suggest keeping it even higher when you sleep because you won’t notice as much. Also, make sure that when you leave for vacations or are gone from your house during the day, the unit is either turned off or turned up to 86 degrees or higher.

Follow these and you should have a lower electricity bill and a longer-lasting environment around you. Let’s end energy gluttony.

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