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Michael J. Sykes suggests ways to reduce power consumption when it's hot outside.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Michael J. SykesThe record-setting heat wave last month had many of us trying to find ways to stay cool.

For some, that meant hopping in the creek or leaving town in search of cooler locations.

For others, it meant hunkering down at home.

If you're the type to stay inside once the temperature climbs above 100 — or even 90 — we have some ideas for helping keep your home cool while keeping your electric use down throughout the remainder of what could be a much hotter summer than we're used to.

If you have central air conditioning, try setting your thermostat around 78 degrees. If you're comfortable with your home a little warmer than that, you can save more energy by setting your thermostat a few degrees higher.

Then, use a fan.

Just remember to turn the fan off when you leave the room. Fans don't actually cool the temperature in a room. But by increasing air movement, they make you feel up to 5 degrees cooler.

On hot days, it's important to block out the heat as much as possible. Keep your doors, windows, and blinds closed during the heat of the day. If it cools down at night or early in the morning, open them to let in a fresh breeze.

Those are two of the biggest energy savers that come at little to no extra cost.

If your home doesn't have enough insulation, you may be letting in additional heat. Our partners at Efficiency Services Group can help you determine if your home is properly insulated.

If you need to add insulation, you may be eligible for a rebate. We offer rebates to PUD customers who heat their homes with electricity. You can see details about our rebate program at crpud.net/insulation.

There are other ways you can keep your home cooler without spending much additional money:

• Run your dishwasher at night and skip the drying cycle. Choose the "air dry" option instead.

• Shade your air conditioner and make sure it has good airflow on all sides.

• Clean or replace your air conditioner filter regularly.

• Grill outside or use your microwave. This will cook your food without heating your kitchen.

For a long-term solution, you might consider planting deciduous trees that shade windows on the south and west sides of your home. You can also install awnings for the same effect.

As we gear up for what looks like a hot, dry summer, it's important to do all we can to stay comfortable. And make sure to drink lots of water.

If you'd like to see additional ways to stay cool in the summertime, please visit crpud.net/staycool.

Michael J. Sykes is general manager of the Columbia River People's Utility District.


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