Friday, June 8, 2007

A Green Tip for Staying Cool (Or a Cool Tip for Staying Green?)

Here in the DC area, the temperature is forecast to reach the mid-90s today, with a heat index of 100 degrees. Apparently it's so hot, you can fry a panda on a rock.

So today, a tip for staying cool and green on days like this.

Heating and cooling costs account for 46% of the average American household's utility bill. The Green Miles' electric bill triples from May to July alone.

But there's an easy way to lower your energy costs. Using fans instead of an air conditioner can save as much as 60% on your electric bill. And considering the majority of America's power comes from dirty sources like coal, using a fan is a small step to help fight air pollution and global warming.

Sure, on an extraordinarily hot day like this, you're going to need that air conditioning even more than Blue Oyster Cult is gonna want that cowbell. I know if it's still in the 70's and humid even at midnight, no fan is going to help me sleep. But on the less-oppressive days, fans can make a real difference.

And there's a tip that surprised even The Green Miles. Did you know it matters if your fan is running clockwise or counterclockwise? According to EnergyStar.gov:

In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counter-clockwise direction. The airflow produced by the ceiling fan creates a wind-chill effect, making you “feel” cooler. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. Remember to adjust your thermostat when using your ceiling fan - additional energy and dollar savings could be realized with this simple step!
You can see a diagram of this effect here. Upon closer inspection, it turns out the ceiling fan in my bedroom has a small switch that changes the direction of the fan.

If you want to learn more, About.com has some great tips for staying cool and saving energy.

Of course, there are other green ways to stay cool. Tonight The Green Miles will be at Tallula's EatBar in Clarendon, drinking an ice-cold Samuel Smith Organic Lager.
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