Published on: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 Takoma Park Newsletter

Heat won’t wilt city’s Energy Challenge efforts

With more than a dozen above-90-degree days on the record just a few weeks into summer, many residents’ Pepco electrical bills are soaring. While the city is pushing energy efficiency in its competition for the $5 million Georgetown Energy Prize, energy efficiency and staying cool this summer don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Here are a few tips to keep cool and keep those energy bills in check:

Air conditioning

  • Blasting the air conditioner on the lowest temperature won’t help your home cool down any faster. Your AC will blow the same temperature cold air if you set it to 65 or 75.
  • Make it a habit every day before you leave for work to set the thermostat to 85, and turn it to 76 to 78 when you get home.
  • Thermostats: You can get a free programmable thermostat from Pepco Energy Wise Rewards program: and Pepco will give you bill credits all summer long if you let them cycle your AC down during peak demand days. Or, Washington Gas will give you $30 to buy your own programmable thermostat: http://bit. ly/1HpOsgd
  • Run the AC on “Auto” so your air handler does not run constantly. Use small fans or ceiling fans in the room you are occupying as needed.

Find out where your energy is going


  • Direct sunlight greatly impacts the temperature inside the home. The use of blinds, curtains and other window coverings during the day is a simple way to keep your house cool.
  • On the topic of lighting; light bulbs also emit heat. Only about 10 to 15 percent of electricity from incandescent bulbs turns into light. Don’t wait to replace your old bulbs: The newer Energy Star LEDs produce 75 percent less heat, save energy and now fit almost every type of fixture.

Air dry dishes and clothes

  • Because dryers use heat, their continued use will only make your home even hotter. For those unable to use the air drying method, it is recommended that clothes dryers and dishwashers be used either in the early morning or late evening, when heat levels are not as high.


  • Replace your air conditioning filters every three months to save energy and have better indoor air quality.
  • Clean your refrigerator coils every four to six months to save energy and reduce the heat your refrigerator produces.


  • Eat a popsicle, or some frozen fruit. Eating cool foods is a great and tasty quick fix for a hot day.
  • Avoid using the oven and prepare no-cook meals such as salads and sandwiches, use a grill outside, or pick up take-out.
  • Cut back caffeine and alcohol, both can cause you to dehydrate faster in heat.
  • Spicy food causes you to sweat without raising your body temperature, so you to end up feeling cooler. Grab the hot sauce and spice it up!
  • Don’t forget you need to drink more water when it’s warm.

Cool your skin not the air

  • Keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator and give your face a refreshing spritz as needed.
  • Use peppermint soap and lotion: Mint refreshes the skin and leaves a cooling sensation.
  • Use a cool compress on your neck, and dip your toes in a cold bowl of water.
  • Only turn ceiling fans or floor fans on if you are in the room. They cool your skin by flowing air past you, but they do not cool the air temperature.

This article appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.