With much of Minnesota experiencing high heat and humidity over the last several days, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman urges Minnesotans to take some basic steps to stay safe and cool while also conserving energy.
“As the heat index rises to extreme levels, you want to make sure you are doing all you can to keep your home safe and cool,” said Rothman, whose agency serves as the state energy office for Minnesota. “To keep your utility bill from rising to extreme levels, you can also take some basic steps to conserve energy and save on cooling costs.”
He said the first priority in a heat wave is to stay safe by reducing heat exposure and checking on elderly family, friends and neighbors to make sure they have access to air conditioning or a cool location. The National Weather Service provides heat safety tips:
- Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic).
- Stay indoors (with air conditioning, if possible).
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- NEVER leave anyone (person or pet) in a closed, parked vehicle.
Rothman also offers the following tips for Minnesotans to save energy while staying cool:
Make sure your air conditioner is running efficiently. Keep the coils clean and free of dust, dirt and debris to reduce energy use. Replace filters regularly.
Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. This is a reasonably comfortable and energy-efficient indoor temperature. It can save 15 percent or more on cooling costs compared to a 72 degree setting.
Keep cool air inside. Close curtains and blinds and pull shades during the daytime when temperatures are the hottest.
Use fans. Ceiling and oscillating fans create a wind-chill effect that can make you feel cooler and reduce the need for air conditioning. But turn the fan off when not in the room.
Avoid using the oven. Use a stove, microwave oven or outdoor grill. Ovens take longer to cook and can make your house warmer, requiring more from your air conditioner.
Conserve power. Turn off devices when you are not using them (including lights, TVs, entertainment systems and computers). They not only consume energy, they also add heat to the home.
Rothman also noted that Minnesota law prohibits a utility from disconnecting a residential customer’s electricity because of unpaid bills when the county is included in an excessive heat watch, heat advisory or excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service.
Commerce is here to help
If you have a question about how to stay cool and save energy, contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-657-3710.
Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Energy.