Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Looking for efficient ways to keep cool this summer?
Try these tips from Energy Trust of Oregon, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources:
n Power down to cool off: Home appliances, electronics and standard light bulbs create heat when they’re on. The less you use them on a hot day, the cooler you’ll be.
n Skip the oven and use the microwave, cook on the stovetop or grill outside.
n Wait until you have a full load to run your clothes washer and dishwasher, and run them in the evening when it’s cooler. Let dishes air dry, wash clothes in cold water and hang them outside to dry if you can.
n Use windows strategically: Windows allow heat in when they’re open or uncovered during the day. Close windows, blinds, shades or curtains to keep heat outside. Light-colored window coverings help reflect heat away.
n When temperatures drop, open your windows and doors to draw in cooler air at night or early in the morning.
n Shield windows from the outside with blinds, awnings or shutters and plant trees or tall shrubs to filter sunlight before it enters your house.
n Join the fan club
Use fans to keep air moving and help you feel cooler, even if you have air conditioning. They create a breeze that pulls perspiration away from your body.
A fan in the window can pull cool air in and draw warm air out. Try using a box or window-mounted fan on the shady side of your house to draw in cool air. A second fan on the opposite side of the house can blow hot air out.
n If you use air conditioning, a fan can allow you to raise the thermostat setting and still stay comfortable. If you buy a new ceiling fan, choose an ENERGY STAR® qualified one (available as a light/fan combination).
n Keep hot air out and cool air in: sealing air leaks and insulating your home can reduce cooling and heating costs and make your home more comfortable.
n Check for leaky windows and doors, as well as holes or cracks hidden in attics, basements and crawlspaces. Seal them with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping.
n Add insulation, but seal air leaks first. Leaks make insulation less effective.
n Make the most of air conditioning: Set the air conditioner or heat pump thermostat a few degrees higher than normal when no one is home. When you are home, set the thermostat to 72-75 degrees.
n Place electronics and lamps with conventional bulbs away from the thermostat. The heat they produce can cause the air conditioner to work harder than necessary.
n Check the system air filter regularly and change it when it looks dirty. A dirty filter makes the system work less efficiently and reduces air flow. Service the system each year.
To take part in a Home Energy Review and for more energy-saving solutions, homeowners can visit www.energytrust.org/start or call 1-866-368-7878.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge