With summer temperatures expected to soar this week, PGE offers simple tips to stay cool and save energy

July 11, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 80 percent of Portland General Electric’s residential customers have air conditioning to help them seek solace from summer heat. While AC units keep homes cool, they use additional electricity, increasing energy bills. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the cost of keeping cool as temperatures rise or staying cool without the aid of an air conditioner. Customers can stay cool and trim summer electricity use by following these easy tips:

  • Open windows (upper stories are the safest) when it’s cool outside (at nights and early in the morning). Monitor outside temperatures; when it’s warming up and approaching 75 to 80 degrees, close windows and use an indoor fan (portable or ceiling). When the temperature inside your home becomes too warm, you may want to turn on the AC to keep cool.
  • Setting the central air thermostat to 75 degrees (instead of 70 degrees) results in an estimated energy savings of 115 kilowatt-hours (kwh) per month and an estimated monthly savings of approximately $11.
  • If the temperatures stay relatively mild during the day, cooling with outside air may be all your home needs to stay comfortable.
  • Close curtains on sun-facing windows. Awnings help shade windows that face the sun, too. Use white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • When cooling the whole house with an AC, be sure to keep all windows and doors closed. When cooling a single room with a window AC, be sure to close all windows and doors in that room to keep the unit running more efficiently; open windows and doors in other parts of the house to take advantage of cool breezes. Be sure to dress as coolly as possible: shorts, short sleeves, sandals (no socks), etc.
  • When using AC, avoid cooking with a stove or conventional oven as heat from these appliances reduces the ability of the unit to cool your house; instead use a microwave or barbecue outdoors.
  • Consider turning off the air conditioning and running a portable window fan overnight for 12 hours instead; for an average home with air conditioning, this results in an estimated energy savings of 335 kwh per month and an estimated monthly savings of approximately $32.

Here are a few tips to keep an air conditioner running effectively:

  • Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean cooler when it comes to room air conditioners. In fact, a unit that is too large for the room operates less efficiently than one that is properly sized.
  • Don’t switch the unit off and on. Window units work best when left to run for long periods.
  • Don’t keep the unit running at the coldest setting. Set the thermostat as high as is comfortable.
  • Don’t put lamps or TVs that emit heat near the air conditioner thermostat.
  • Use interior fans to circulate cooled air more effectively through the house.
  • Clean or change furnace/air conditioner filter every three months.
  • Seal leaks in heating/air conditioning ducts (insulate ducts where necessary).

Other money-saving tips for your home:

  • Keep refrigerators and freezers full. Fill freezers with plastic milk jugs full of water if needed (they make great ice blocks for picnic coolers, too). Full refrigerators and freezers are more efficient because the capacity for warm air to enter is reduced, eliminating the need for the unit to cool that warm air. Keep refrigerator doors closed as much as possible.
  • Turn up refrigerator thermostat from 32 to 37 degrees. This cuts energy use in the average home by 9 kwh per month.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Swapping out 16 bulbs could reduce usage by 90 kwh per month and save an estimated $8.50 a month.
  • Decrease hot tub thermostat from 105 degrees to 80 degrees. Typical savings is 20 kwh per month.

Customers who are shopping for new forced-air systems are encouraged to compare energy costs; look for Energy Star® logos on the most efficient models and then compare costs, which are located on the yellow EnergyGuide® labels.

Those who are thinking about installing air conditioners should also consider heat pumps. According to PGE Energy Specialists, an energy-efficient heat pump is the most efficient way to heat and cool your home. Residents stay comfortable year-round and use up to 40 percent less electricity to heat their homes. In the summer, a heat pump operates as an air conditioner, collecting heat from the air in your home and sending it outside. In the winter, the process is reversed. The heat pump collects heat from outdoor air and pumps it inside to warm your home.

When buying central air conditioning systems or heat pumps, customers should be sure to get the right sizes for their homes. For assistance, contact a PGE Energy Services representative at 800-722-9287 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays or visit PortlandGeneral.com/Energy.

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About Portland General Electric Company
Portland General Electric, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a fully integrated electric utility that serves approximately 856,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon. Visit our website at PortlandGeneral.com.


Fore more information contact: Melanie Moir, PGE, 503-464-8790