How to survive the dog days of summer and stay eco-friendly? It is a challenge, takes some sacrifice maybe, but it CAN be done. Here are some tips on how to save money on that power bill, even when it's 100 degrees outside:
Spend time in public places with AC
like the movies, library, bowling alley, gym, rec center for example. Then while you're out, turn the temperature up on your AC so it's not pumping all day long. Here's a link for things to do in the DC metro area with lots of great ideas: http://caffeineandaprayer.com/summer-fun-guide-2010/
Spend some time outdoors in your local pool.
If you have young children use a baby pool at home. And if you have the sprinklers going, get the kids out there while you water your lawn. The kids will love it and your lawn will love it too.
Keep the AC set at a high temp anyway.
It's recommended to be set at 78 or higher while you're at home. If you set it at 70 it costs double than it would at 78. Besides, do you really need to wear a sweater inside during the summer? I really get perturbed when stores and restaurants have their AC blasting so high that I have to rush to get out of there. But at least I can control it in my own home. A programmable thermostat can help control this easier, so you can set it higher when you're not at home and then have it cool enough when you get back.
Install ceiling fans in the rooms you use the most.
If it's cool outside you can keep the windows open as well. Your AC uses 100 times more energy than a ceiling fan at medium speed. Use your AC & fans at the same time and it will cool off to your desired temperature and you can set the AC temp higher. For example, if your desired temp is 78, set the AC at 80-81 & turn on the fan. It will use 15-25% less energy.
Use your blinds and curtains to keep the heat out!
The summer sun is so bright that it won't be too dark in your house, but it will keep the heat out and the AC in. Don't forget to turn off the lights, which add more heat!
On code red/orange air quality days, be conscious of adding more pollutants in the air.
DON'T IDLE your car!! Wait to use any gas-powered lawn tools or lawnmower til it's cool out (early morning or later in the evening). If you can use electric tools, even better! Run your errands that you have to drive to in the early morning or evening.
Limit your oven use.
Use a toaster oven, microwave, or grill instead. Use the crockpot for easy meals that take no time to prepare. Or make cold dishes. Who wants to be in a hot kitchen anyway? Think: salads, sandwiches, picnic food, or even gazpacho. Mmmm. You'll be craving these once the winter comes around again. Just google "No cook summer meals" and see what you have an appetite for. check this link out for a few recipes: http://www.parents.com/recipes/cooking/family-favorites/easy-no-cook-suppers/
Use your appliances when the demand on the power grid is the lowest (early morning, night).
Set your dishwasher before going to bed, or if you have a washer/dryer with a timer then set it for the middle of the night when very little power is being used. Peak demand hours during the summer are 2pm to 6pm (the hottest part of the day), so try to limit use of anything you have to plug in during these hours.
Set your water heater a little lower
since it doesn't have to work so hard to get hot in the summer months. Don't forget to set it to "Vacation Mode" when you go on a trip.
Hopefully, you can apply some of these to help you survive the summer in an eco-friendly way. These tips will save you money guaranteed. And of course, save a little bit of the planet as well. :)