Friday, July 22, 2011

Staying cool during the Dog Days of summer

This week has been a hot one, and there's no doubt that we're well into the Dog Days of summer.  You know those hot and humid days that just make you want to melt.  Here in Ohio this week has officially qualified as a heat wave.  We've had temperatures at or above 90, with plenty of humidity to raise the heat index near 100 or more.  Like so many people, I do all I can to save money, and try to avoid running the air conditioner any more than absolutely necessary.  To keep the house as cool as possible I keep the curtains (which have thermal backing) closed during the day to block out the hot sun.  I also try to avoid adding any extra heat to the house, especially during the hottest part of the afternoon.  Unfortunately I no longer have a grill, so I can't do my cooking outside, but I do try to cook as little as possible, and use my electric skillet rather than the stove or oven.  The skillet uses less electricity and generates less heat than the oven.  Not only am I concerned about excess heat in the house, but I don't want to use more electricity than necessary and add extra stress to the grid.  When too many people are using a lot of electricity (think running the AC, cooking, pool filters, fans, etc.) you can get brown outs like we did yesterday.  The system simply can't supply all the power that is being demanded and large areas can lose electricity.  Ours was out for 4 hours yesterday.  To keep cool the cats and I stay down in the basement (which is partially finished).  I workout to exercise videos late in the evening downstairs, and if it's really hot that's when I'll turn the air conditioner on for a few hours.  At that hour fewer people are using electricity and the AC is more efficient and doesn't put as much of a strain on the system..  I also avoid doing anything that will add heat to the house, such as washing dishes or clothes.  I'll wash dishes at 1am, and sometimes even do my cooking  (enough for at least a few days) then.  I'm up at that hour anyway, so it's not that much of an inconvenience.

Of course the garden needs more water when it gets this hot.  I'll use the soaker hose either very early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize evaporation.  To conserve water the flowers get watered with rain water I save in buckets, or gray water from rinsing the dishes or the final rinse when I wash clothes.  The vegetable garden gets a deep soaking about once a week, depending on how much rain we get.  For me, conserving electricity and water has been a way of life for years.  Do what you can to beat the heat and stay cool!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

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