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High temperature sign in downtown Chattanooga

Smart Steps in a Heat Wave

Tips for Keeping Cool, Conserving Energy and Saving Money

Summer is here, and it’s off to a hot start.

With a heat wave pushing temperatures well into the 90s across the Valley region, now’s the time to get smart about your energy use.

Did you know to set your ceiling fans to spin counterclockwise when it’s hot? This creates a downdraft that can make the room feel up to 4 degrees cooler. But be sure to turn them off when you leave the room to conserve energy.

Simple tips like these can keep you comfortable starting right now.

TVA EnergyRight also offers programs to help further reduce your energy use and hold the line on your electric bills for years to come.

As TVA has prepared its electric grid for summer’s high demand, efficiency experts have also created the Keep it Cool Summer Checklist for homeowners.

Get Your Energy Geek On

No matter where in the Valley region you live, the most important times to be energy-aware are between noon and 8 p.m.

That’s when temperatures tend to climb and demand for electricity rises toward its peak in the late afternoon and early evening, said Shannon Brown, manager of TVA’s Balancing Authority, which coordinates grid operations.

Even though you might want to hibernate in the pool with a cold drink, the extreme heat is actually an excellent time to take stock of your home’s performance, EnergyRight marketing manager Ashley England said.

“If you notice, ‘Actually, I have to keep cranking the AC up more and more and more,’ it probably means that your house is otherwise inefficient,” England said. “That is going to make your bill higher.

“It's a good time to start thinking about all the other ways that maybe your home needs some improvement that could really give your HVAC a little bit of a rest.”

TVA offers rebates for energy efficiency upgrades such as insulation and sealing up cracks and gaps where sweltering heat can enter your home.

“Even if you had the most efficient HVAC unit on the planet, if you don't have proper air sealing, duct sealing and insulation, you're going to be wasting a ton of energy and money,” England said.

Businesses large and small can also receive financial incentives for improving energy efficiency.

Pro Tips

Here are some additional tips to keep your energy bills in check and help TVA meet demand during hot weather.

  • Manage appliances: Refrain from running your dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer between noon and 8 p.m. If your appliances are programmable, set them to run at night.
  • Change filters: Make sure your air conditioner filter is clean so your unit runs as efficiently as possible. Get discounted prices by establishing a subscription for regular filter replacements or use a filter whistle to alert you when you’re due for a change. You can get a free filter whistle and other energy-saving gadgets by completing a DIY Home Energy Assessment.
  • Get smart on thermostats: Each degree you raise your thermostat during the summer can save approximately 3% on your electric bill. Do the math – that adds up. A smart thermostat can help. Consider setting it to precool your home before the hottest part of the day.
  • Close doors: Keep exterior doors closed and minimize the time you leave the refrigerator door open.
  • Unplug: Got unused or unnecessary appliances or electronic devices? Pull them out of the wall. If they’re plugged in, they still use energy – even when turned off.
  • Recycle: Consider parting with that old extra fridge in your garage or basement. It’s probably an energy hog. Here are some tips on how to do that.
  • Close curtains: Direct sunlight can heat up a room. Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day on the south, west and east sides of your house.
  • Dine alfresco: When possible, grill outside. If you cook indoors, use your microwave or try to avoid recipes that require long cooking times on the stovetop or oven. It’s probably not the week to bake bread.
  • Change bulbs: Transition to more energy-efficient lightbulbs. They use 75% less energy and they emit less heat.
  • Aim for shade: Use the hot summer days to create a landscaping plan that introduces shade trees on the south or southwest side of your home. Your future self will thank you.
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Explore additional tips for keeping your home cool at the TVA EnergyRight blog.

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