Heat wave reminds us to cut costs, stay safe

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yes, it’s hot.

And yes, it’s only the middle of June.

If weather forecasts hold steady, we’re in for a long – and hot – summer ahead. Experts are predicting temperatures to reach into the upper 90s by next week, spiking above seasonal norms and forcing even the most weather-hearty among us question what lies ahead during July and August.

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This early heat wave, and the forecasts for continued high temperatures, also mean a strain on everything from our tempers to our thermostats to our pocketbooks.

Luckily, homeowners and take some simple measures to help control their power bills during the summer months. These homeowner tips, offered by regional power associations, are a good place to start:

• Insulate, Insulate, Insulate – Insulating attics, floors and walls is one of the most effective ways to keep cool air inside your home.

• Thermostats – Set your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer. You can expect a 3 to 4 percent increase in energy use for each degree lower it is set.

• Close the Blinds – Keeping the blinds and shades closed during the day is a no-cost way to keep your home cooler.

• Ceiling Fans – Moving air can feel 3 to 5 degrees cooler than non-moving air and can save you 3 percent on cooling costs.

• Have Your A/C Serviced – Having a professional inspect your system annually will ensure proper operation and keep it running as efficiently as possible.

Also, if you, or someone you know lives in a home without air conditioning, a fan is a necessity. Stifling heat can easily lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion, and elderly individuals are particularly at risk. Area service organizations, from the Salvation Army to DHR, may be able to help locate fans for those in dire need.

And, outside of the home, pet owners and parents need to take extra precautions. Pets left outside must have ample water and a place to escape the brutal heat of the sun. Children and pets should never be left inside a vehicle in the summer months, as temperatures can climb quickly to dangerous – even deadly – numbers.

So yes, it’s hot. And it’s going to be hot for a while. So be smart, about your home; your pets; your family and your neighbors.