MARQUETTE - Although the weather has not cooperated yet, summer should be here any minute. With hot and sunny days ahead, energy efficiency and energy savings opportunities will abound.
Jennifer Binkley-Power of the Northern Options Energy Center - a Marquette non-profit group that helps people increase their energy efficiency - has some tips on how to spend an energy-efficient summer.
"People should look to identify some of the same energy saving measures as they would in the winter," she said. "Insulate and weatherize your house to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. For example, make sure you seal up any air infiltration. Make sure windows and doors are caulked, insulate and plug up areas where plumbing, electrical or anything else makes a penetration into the house. Keep all cooling systems maintained and keep debris out of vents and clean or replace air filter once a month."
Robyn Burke of Ishpening hangs laundry up to dry in her yard recently. Using sunshine and warm summer breezes to dry clothing is one good way to save on energy costs. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
In the summer, instead of dialing the thermostat down, people with air conditioning should dial it up, she added.
"Keep it as high as possible to attain a comfortable indoor temperature," Binkley-Power said. "Using a programmable thermostat can save you further by setting the temperature higher for times when you are gone."
Avoiding using the clothes dryer and hanging clothes outside instead is another tip to save energy. Also, grilling and using the oven less helps save energy.
"Avoid using the oven on hot days, choose instead the microwave or the outdoor grill," Binkley-Power said.
The Marquette Board of Light and Power also has some energy-saving tips on its Web site at www.mblp.org/energyconservation.php. Some of the tips include: closing blinds to keep rooms cooler and planting three shady trees around one's house. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, doing so can cut down $100 to $250 of heating and cooling costs annually.
Air-drying dishes instead of using a dishwasher's drying cycle, taking showers instead of baths and washing only full loads of clothes and dishes also help conserve water and energy.
Summer is the season for building and repairing houses in the Upper Peninsula. Binkley-Power has some tips on building or remodeling green.
"When replacing windows always choose the ENERGY STAR label which are low-E," she said. "When buying an air conditioner, whether a central system or window unit, always choose ENERGY STAR. Use light colors when painting or siding a house and select light colored roofing materials."
For more information on ENERGY STAR products, go to www.energystar.gov and to check out Northern Options, go to: www.northernoptions.org.