Beat the Heat -- and Stay Green -- Says the Environmental Defense Fund

July 22, 1999

Does the scorching summer heat have you seeing red? The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has some practical tips to beat the heat ? and be green ? this summer.

“Heat wave conditions give us a taste of what the future could be like if global warming continues unabated,” said Dr. Janine Bloomfield, an EDF senior scientist. “Fortunately, everyone can get relief from the heat and save money by taking steps now to reduce energy use and cut the greenhouse gases that are warming our world.”

If your air conditioner is laboring away but not making you cooler, follow these steps for maximum air-conditioned comfort.

  • Replace the air conditioner’s filter if it’s dirty and check to see that the coils are free of debris.
  • Place window air conditioners in the shade.
  • Use weather stripping and caulk to insulate doors and windows.
  • Check to see that your attic is well ventilated, which will make the rooms below cooler.
  • Pull down shades and close curtains during the day.
  • Consider using a fan on cooler days or at night - fans use one-tenth the energy of an air conditioner.
Hot summer days bring increases in energy demand. Water demand also shoots up on hot summer days, often when water is scarce. Follow these tips for conserving energy and water, which can also save you money.
  • Use dishwashers and washing machines for full loads only. Instead of hot water, consider using cold or warm for laundry. Don’t use the heat drying option on your dishwasher, and consider using a clothesline instead of the dryer. This will keep your house cooler as well.
  • Turn the water off when you brush your teeth ? keeping the faucet on can waste up to 15 gallons of water every time you brush. Also, rather than letting the water run, fill the basin when you shave, or when you wash dishes.
  • Use energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Water your lawn early in the morning when it’s cooler so less water evaporates.
Scorching days may bring heavy smog, which can damage the lungs. Everyone is affected by smog, but children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. Follow these tips to help reduce smog, and protect your health.
  • Heed air quality warnings on news broadcasts.
  • Use public transportation, bicycle, walk or carpool.
  • Keep your car tuned and your tires properly inflated. Make sure your car’s air conditioner is not leaking coolant.
  • Don’t top off the gas tank; this releases smog-forming pollutants into the air. Try to avoid filling the tank on heavy smog days, or fill up during the cooler morning and evening hours.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Jackrabbit accelerations (flooring the gas pedal), excessive speed and hauling heavy loads increase emissions and decrease fuel efficiency.