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How to Handle High Summer Temperatures

While Washington and Idaho aren’t known for searing-hot temperatures, our summers can get pretty warm (especially when you’re used to or favor the cold). With temperatures peaking in the mid to high 90s over the next few weeks, it’s important to consider just how warm it’s going to be outside when you make plans.

Air Conditioner Tips

Air conditioners work hard during the summer. While cooling costs during the summer doesn’t quite rival the costs for heating during the winter, air conditioners keep higher temperatures at bay. Still, all that effort puts a great deal of strain on your unit. Over time, that strain will lead to necessary repairs or an eventual replacement of your HVAC system. Maximizing the effect of your air conditioner will reduce long-term repairs and the costs of running your system. It takes a little more focus and attention, but the long-term gains are worth it.

Ease Air Conditioner Strain by:

  • Minimizing Cycle Times – Run your A/C during the hottest part of the day, but rely on fans and open windows to keep you cool at night or when the outside air is comfortable. Don’t let your house overheat during the day, even if you aren’t there. Keep a minimum temperature of 80-85 degrees when you’re out. This is especially true if you have pets you leave at home (make sure they have plenty of water available and a fan blowing in at least one room).
  • Follow Proper Maintenance Schedules – We cannot repeat this enough. Proper seasonal maintenance for your HVAC unit will keep it running efficiently and decrease how often the system breaks down. Plus, it’s mandatory for most warranties.
  • Don’t Seal Off Rooms – Don’t close off vents to try and decrease energy costs. It won’t help and can actually cause damage to your ventilation system that will lead to decreased efficiency. Instead, close doors to rooms that are hotspots and keep rooms with thermostats cooler.
  • Repair Damage – If your unit is freezing up or stops blowing cold air, don’t keep pressuring it to cool your home. Call for a repair and get the damage fixed immediately before the excess strain causes additional damage.
  • Replace Filters – Especially if you have people in and out of your home, there’s a high pollen count, or you own pets. Replace filters every 3-6 months to reduce stress on the blower fan and improve system efficiency.

Saving Energy

High summer temperatures usually mean higher utility bills. While our summer bills are often lower than the winter heating costs, a scorcher of a summer will mean increased air conditioner cycle times and higher utilities. Being able to stay cool all summer long is important, but so is taking the heat off of your wallet.

Simple Ways to Lower your Utility Bill:

  • Use a Smart Thermostat – Learning thermostats and smart thermostats watch how you use energy in your home adjust themselves accordingly to reduce energy demand. At the same time, a programmable thermostat is slightly less expensive to install and will help you set up how your home cools and stays cool without you breaking a sweat.
  • Renew Insulation – Double check the insulation in your attic and walls. Quality insulation keeps heat out of your home and traps cool air inside. Common leaks are around exterior exhaust vents, doors, and windows. Feel for drafts around these areas or for cool air that’s escaping. And don’t forget to make sure your water heater is insulated as well.
  • Use Curtains and Shades – Block radiated heat from the sun using curtains or sun shades on your windows. We all enjoy sunlight, but blocking direct sunlight is important for reducing cooling costs in your home this summer.
  • Use Fans – While they don’t cool down the temperature of the room, circulating air will make a room feel cooler. Use fans and raise the thermostat in your home be to beat the heat and rising energy prices. At night (or during the day if it’s cool enough), open the windows and use fans to circulate air. When the temperature spikes up to uncomfortable levels, close the windows and use you air conditioner, but don’t forget to continue using fans so you don’t have to drop your AC all the way to freezing.

Heat Exhaustion Advice

As a side note, be on the lookout for signs of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion syndrome is a dangerous state where your core body temperature reaches dangerous levels. Often a part of dehydration, heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke and is common after strenuous workouts in high temperatures, or while working when the heat index is high.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pale skin

Remedies for Heat Exhaustion:

  • Drink fluids to replenish water and salts
  • Remove tight or restrictive clothing
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • Cool off using shade, an air conditioner, or ice packs

If you can’t cool off, or your internal body temperature exceeds 103 F, seek medical help immediately.

Stay cool everyone!