July 24, 2024
How to keep your home cool and save money in the PNW heat wave

A woman adjusts an air conditioner in Portland, August 14, 2023 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The extended heat wave continuing throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington not only brings concerns of overheating, but going over budget when it comes to keeping your home cool.

As a result, local utility companies have advice for how to maintain efficient cooling if you have an air conditioner while also saving a bit of money. One tip involves the pre-cooling method.

“Pre-cooling means that you are opening up your windows early mornings, you’re allowing some of the heat in your home to escape, allowing for the cool air to come in. And then same thing when the sun goes down,” said Anthony Jeffries, an energy counselor with Clark Public Utilities.

The placement of fans instead of – or alongside – your air conditioning can also help, according to the Energy Trust of Oregon. This is because fans are low cost options, even when they run for long periods of time.

“Another good tactic is to have a box fan or a fan at one door. back door, have one in the front,” advised Cameron Starr, a customer experience operations manager with Energy Trust. “So that way you can kind of suck out the hot air from the day and then bring in that cool fresh air at night.”

Another key factor both companies mention in lowering cooling energy costs is the “20-degree rule,” which says your air conditioner or thermostat should be set 20-degrees lower than the temperature outside. the temperature outside should correspond to where your air conditioner or thermostat is set.

“So for example, it’s going to be let’s say, 100 degrees one day. If you’re trying to set your thermostat inside your home to, let’s say, 68 degrees, it’s not going to reach it. It’s not going to be there. Your home might get down to 80 something, if anything,” Jeffries noted.

“You do want to make sure that if you can set it a couple degrees higher, especially when it gets to be above 100 degree days, so that your AC unit is not running all the time,” added Starr. “That can help you save a lot of energy.”

But during this particular stretch of excessive heat, being cool and comfortable – but not freezing cold – is most important, according to Jeffries.

“If you find yourself wearing a sweatshirt in your home and your air conditioning is running, it’s probably set a bit too low,” he said.

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