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photo of dog staying cool in front of a fanNow that we’re in the midst of summer, most of us are feeling the heat. With last week’s wave of high temperatures and humidity that loomed over New England, we’ve been using more energy to help keep us cool. Even though energy is invisible, the more we use, the greater the potential to harm the environment. Below are a few fast and easy steps to not only keep you cool, but also lessen your own environmental impacts by conserving energy.

Close those shades – sunlight heats up the room. If there’s any room in your house that feels especially hot – a bedroom, living room, the kitchen or even the bathroom – a simple step to cool it down is by closing the shades during the day. If you’re like me and some of your windows don’t have shades, another alternative could be to hang up a sheet or even a towel. It might look a little silly, but it works just as well and makes a world of a difference.

Turn off the lights. A really easy trick to cool down a room is by turning off the lights, especially during the day. Light bulbs are heat-producing appliances and flipping the switch is a very quick way to keep a room cool. Remembering to turn off the lights is also simple behavior that can help conserve tremendous amounts of energy over time. This tip is especially important for those who still use incandescent light bulbs, as they produce the most heat and use the most energy. A simple switch to LED light bulbs is well worth it; they last up to 25 times as long and use only a quarter of the energy. And, if you’re trying to stay cool, LEDs produce virtually no heat, while incandescent lights radiate 90% of their energy as heat.

Ensure your ceiling fans are rotating counter-clockwise. Ceiling fans tend to have two rotational settings that are specific for the season in which they are being used. When set to clockwise, the fan pulls cool air up and then forces the hot air down and disperses it – perfect for the winter months. But in the summer, counter-clockwise creates that “breeze” feeling and allows the cool air to move around. Most new ceiling fans come with a remote that will have the options right on it. Older fans, however, may actually need to be adjusted from a switch located on the fan itself. This might be a hassle, but the breeze is definitely worth it.

Take it easy on the thermostat. Air conditioners will cool a room at the same rate no matter what the setting is. In fact, the lower the temperature setting, the more money it may be costing you. A 75 degree setting will cost about 18 percent more than a 78 degree setting. Take full advantage of your air conditioner’s cost-effectiveness and set the temperature as high as your comfort-level permits.

Make microwaves and grills your summer cooking’s best friend. Ovens generate a lot of heat and in the summer; they can turn a kitchen into a sauna in no time at all. All that extra heat also makes your refrigerator and your cooling system work harder, costing you more money. Microwaves, on the other hand, use less than half the power of conventional ovens and will cook your food in one-fourth of the time. Grills are also perfect for keeping that extra heat out of the house while cooking.

By following these few pieces of advice, you can make your summer a little more enjoyable, affordable and environmentally friendly for whenever the next heat wave strikes. For more cooling tips, visit DOER’s website.

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Samantha Randall is an intern this summer for DOER’s Marketing and Stakeholder Engagement team. She is a recent graduate from the University of Maine. Samantha majored in Communication, with a double minor in Renewable Energy Policy and Economics. She is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and has a strong passion for environmental issues. Outside of the office, Samantha enjoys photography, writing, painting and following the local political ins and outs of her hometown, Kingston, Mass.

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