The first day of summer, June 21, is Tuesday. That’s sort of a shock to those of us who feel like it has been summer for several months now.
Summers in Southeast Georgia typically feel like an endurance test to folks who prefer cool weather, but the heat has been particularly challenging this year.
It is especially difficult for ladies like me who have been experiencing "personal summers" for quite a while now and would really appreciate a cool breeze every now and then!
Every year, I am faced with a dilemma — I want to be cool, but I also want to conserve energy and resources. What is an older — I mean mature — but "green-minded" lady to do? As the days grow longer and the temperature rises, there are many ways to conserve resources, save energy and water, reduce waste around your home — and still stay cool. Here are a few suggestions from the "cool" folks at Earth911.com:
• Care for your air conditioner: Check the AC air filter monthly and change it when it looks dirty or at least every three months. A dirty, clogged filter will slow air flow and make the unit work harder, expending extra energy, to keep you cool.
Also make sure to clean the air conditioner’s coils periodically. Dust slows air flow and insulates the coils, reducing their ability to absorb heat.
• Create a breeze: You can save up to 14 percent on your cooling costs if you use a ceiling fan and raise your thermostat two degrees, according to Energy Star. Or use free-standing fans to create a "wind tunnel" effect by placing one fan by a window where air is entering your home and another at an opposite window positioned to blow the warm air outside. Positioning a fan near an air-conditioning vent can maximize the cooling effect.
• Close the blinds: Keep curtains and shades closed during the day to block the sun’s rays and keep the house cooler.
• Change light bulbs: You probably already know that compact fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs, but did you know that CFLs also burn cooler? Incandescent bulbs produce 75 percent more heat than CFLs and can contribute to a warmer home and higher cooling costs.
• Turn off the tap: Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge for those hot summer days when you need a cool glass of water, rather than running the tap until the water turns cold.
• Minimize fridge traffic: Slow down the constant opening and shutting of the refrigerator door by providing plenty of readily available snack choices, such as granola bars and fruit, on a counter. Every time that refrigerator door opens, the fridge needs more electricity to maintain that cool temperature.
• Water wisely in your garden: Your plants will be thirstier in the summer, but you can conserve water by watering your garden more efficiently. Adjust sprinklers so they’re watering your plants — not the sidewalk or street. Watering plants and your lawn early in the morning when temperatures are lower reduces evaporation from the soil.
• Conserve at the pool: When you’re not using the pool, cover it to reduce evaporation. You won’t have to refill it as frequently.
• Cook with the power of the sun: The last thing you want to do on a hot summer day is overheat your kitchen by cranking up the oven. Let the summer sun bake, boil or steam your dinner via solar oven. You can make your own solar oven out of items like cardboard, a thermometer, foil, glass and black spray paint.
Or just choose recipes that can be made in the crock pot or whip up a salad. Try my favorite summer cooking idea — get someone else (that would be my husband, in my case) to grill the main course and add cold or no-cook side dishes like fruit, salad or potato chips.
Even when the blistering summer heat is at its worst, there are many ways to stay cool while using resources wisely. So chill out this summer!
KLB activities that need you:
• Win-Dex Award nominations will be accepted through Thursday, June 30. Email Keep Liberty Beautiful at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 880-4888 to get a form. You also can call the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce at 368-4445.
• July 19, 2-6 p.m.: Save this date to recycle CDs and DVDs for a good cause.