On these hot summer days in Evanston, with the mercury pushing towards 100 degrees, it may be tempting to run the air conditioner at full blast all day long. But the Citizens Utility Board is telling residents there are ways to cope with the heat that will help both the environment and your pocketbook.

Some are obvious, but others fall into the category of “why didn’t I think of that?”

For example, switching your incandescent light bulbs, which emit 90 percent of their energy as heat, to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs will not only save electrical energy, but will keep you cooler at the same time.

Another suggestion:  In the cooler hours of the evening, turn off the AC, open the windows, and run a window fan so that it blows the air outside, thereby pulling the cooler air in from the outside and pushing the hot air out.

If you’re cooking on your kitchen range, use the exhaust fan to suck the hot air from your kitchen. CUB says the savings in your cooling costs will “far outweigh” the electricity costs from the fan. Better still, do your cooking on the outside barbecue grill.

Harried moms and dads should encourage the kids to turn off the video games and go outside to play. The latest gaming systems, CUB contends, use more energy than most other electronic devices in the house. Just remember to power down the gaming system.

These and many more tips are listed on the CUB website.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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1 Comment

  1. humidity reduction a big A/C plus

    It's common to hear people say that the heat in Arizona is far more bearable than in Chicago because the humidity is so low. It's true. That's why Arizonans can use cheap "swamp boxes" to cool with evaporation, something impossible to do here in Chicago.

    While one of your suggestions is to open up the windows and turn off the A/C in the evening, this is the time when the relative humidity climbs to its highest value, making the body's cooling ability through sweating minimal.

    The best combination I've found is to run the A/C to reduce the humidity, but keep the temperature at 78. Then use a small fan to make yourself as comfy as you like. 78 with low humidity and a fan provided breeze can even be too cool at times.

    Trying to sleep in high humidity, even if the temperature is in the 70's, can be tough and the A/C works best during the cooler night-time hours. So if the humidity is low, open the windows and if not, keep the A/C going.

    BTW – anyone with central air should check the insulation on the coolant lines that connect to the compressor outside the house. Particularly if you are in a condo with your compressor on the roof, it's easy to let this inspection pass for years on end – not a good thing because the foam plastic used for insulating those lines breaks down fairly quickly. I've seen deterioration only a year after replacing mine.

    With the insulation missing, you are cooling the air outside before the coolant gets inside where you want it to do its job.

    If you want to check the outdoor heat and humidity you can do it easily with WeatherBug, a service that has professional quality weather stations at Baker Demonstration School on Ridge for a near-the-lake reading and at Highcrest Middle School in Wilmette for conditions a couple of miles away from the lake. A complete list of WeatherBug stations near Evanston is here. Why no stations actually IN Evanston? I don't know.


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