If you live on or near the East Coast, you know that Summer 2010 is already really, really hot. We've had many days above 90°F and July is plenty toasty too.

So what does this mean?

If you're like me, it means your electricity bills are going up as you crank the air conditioning. Don't get me wrong, I love AC—I think it's one of the best inventions we've ever come up with—but the heavy use of it contributes to rolling blackouts and peak energy use that overloads the system. Not to mention, we pay more.

What can you do? Luckily, there are some things you can do to help lower that cost until the weather cools off again.

  1. Close the curtains or blinds first thing in the morning. If you have windows facing east, south or (especially) west, close those curtains during the day. Closing the curtains cuts down the amount of sunlight that comes in and then gets turned into heat. Solar heat gain sends your inside temperature skyrocketing, forcing your AC to work extra-hard to compensate.
  2. Turn the AC temperature higher while you're out. A programmable thermostat is the best way to go. Set the AC to 78°F only when you're home, and 10-15 degrees higher (or even off altogether) while you're at work. (You may want to have a little AC on if you have pets, though!) If you don't have a programmable thermostat, though, just dial up the temperature on the thermostat when you're ready to leave.
  3. Don't turn the AC temperature all the way down. It might be nice to cool your place to the high 60s, but resist the urge; keeping your place that cool takes a lot of energy. Think about turning on a fan to move the air around—that can help keep you comfortable. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. And remember to turn off ceiling fans when you leave a room; fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.

We're all powered by the same grid, so let's be responsible and make wise choices. That way, we won't have to suffer spot power outages or interrupted service even on the hottest days.

Stay cool!