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Going Green: Summer – A Time to Lower your Energy Bill and Enjoy Life
Monday, 05 July 2010 08:07

Going GreenSummer is here and we all have choices about how we wish to perceive this wonderful season. We can complain about the heat, the high energy bills, and the possible storm dangers or we can celebrate the long days of sunlight, the beautiful blooms throughout the island and the increased time we have to spend with our families. We have choices every day that can impact our well being and our pocket books. It is up to us to decide how we want to spend our hard earned money and our precious time. Some of us choose to spend money on huge power bills and some of us choose not to by reducing the electricity we use.

The choice to reduce energy usage not only saves money, but in most cases it has a positive impact on our health, our environment and our overall well being. So let’s stop complaining about the heat and look at the upcoming months as an opportunity to enjoy the summer while getting healthy and reducing our power bill expenditures.

Air conditioning is something we have grown to believe we cannot live without. We have become accustomed to controlling our indoor environment to a point where we no longer feel comfortable unless we reduce the humidity and cool the air temperature below 80 degrees. Have we forgotten that this past winter we were longing for a day when we could shed the blankets and sweaters to enjoy the natural warmth of the sun? Is it possible that we are now shelling out hard-earned cash to keep ourselves cooler than we need to be?

If you are ready to lower your electric bill, all you have to do is make the choice to do so. Every day we make choices about the power we use and we all know that air conditioning is one of the biggest kilowatt guzzlers in town. The amount of energy your air conditioner uses can cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to. Remember that your air conditioner is constantly running to cool the air while you are constantly adding heat to the very air it’s trying to cool. Think about it. There are all kinds of appliances you control that radiate heat into the air. What is ironic is that you are paying for them to add heat to your environment every day so you can pay more for your air conditioner to cool the heat these appliances produce.

So, stop paying for all of these additional heat sources like your oven, your hot water heater, your lights, and your television. Why not cook outdoors on the grill, take cooler showers, and watch less television? Hmm, common theme here. All of these suggestions will save you money and are also good for your health.

The other thing to think about is setting your air conditioner at a higher temperature. This might sound pretty fundamental, but give it some serious thought. Your health may depend on it. The higher you set your air conditioner temperature, the healthier you will be. Stop putting your body through a temperature shock every time you step in or out of your office or home. The truth is that our body is designed to easily adapt to slight variances in temperature. When we start exposing ourselves to high variances in temperature, our body has to work harder to keep us comfortable. This adaptation process may cause profuse sweating, loss of energy, and a decrease in the performance of our immune system.

Our skin suffers too. Our pores are in a constant state of opening and closing every time we experience a climate change involving severe heat and cold, and a reduction in humidity can result in dry skin and premature aging. The bottom line is that decreasing the variance in the temperatures we expose ourselves to is healthier than the game of hot and cold we play with our body throughout the day. The suggestion here is not to turn off your air conditioner, just set it to a higher temperature.

Summer – A Time to Lower your Energy Bill and Enjoy LifeLet’s not forget that we also have the luxury of the greatest natural air conditioner on the planet: our sea breezes. Why not set aside one evening a week to pack a cooler and head to the ocean. This time of year darkness doesn’t fall until well into the nighttime hours and most of the time there is a cool ocean breeze that is more rejuvenating and refreshing than any air conditioner will ever be, and it’s free.

All of these ideas will benefit you as an individual and they will also benefit our island and our planet. If we all take responsibility for decreasing our energy usage, the less demand we put on our earth’s natural resources. Together we can decrease power- producing emissions we spew into the very air we breath- right here, right now, on our very own island.

So, here’s your green challenge for this week: reduce the usage of heat producing appliances and raise your air conditioner temperature one or two degrees every couple of days. The absolute green minimum you should even consider is 78 degrees. Once you have reached your own personal threshold (mine is 84 degrees), you may find that you can take cooler showers. This will save you even more money and also improve the condition of your hair and skin.

Oh, and one more thing: when you get home from work, immediately change into something cooler. Unless you’re a swimsuit model, your home is going to feel hot if you’re wearing your work clothes. Put on your flip-flops and shorts and give yourself 15 minutes to just chill. I guarantee this will cool down your body AND your mind.

Cheri Wood recently retired from Bank of America and has now permanently relocated to Grand Bahama. Her career of over 20 years in corporate America included serving in various capacities including training, marketing, sales, quality control, risk assessment, communications and operational management. While performing her regular job responsibilities, Cheri also served several years as the president of the Environmental Network for the Bank of America in the State of Rhode Island. Her experience in the environmental arena includes project management and coordination of volunteer events on local and national levels throughout the United States. Over the years she has worked closely with organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, the Rhode Island Rivers’ Council, and in 2010 Cheri was elected as secretary of the GB Branch of the Bahamas National Trust. Serving in her voluntary role with the Bahamas National Trust, Cheri is involved with increasing recycling on the island, promoting green practices with local businesses, educating the community on the importance of preserving the environment, and serving as a resource for those who wish to participate in environmental opportunities on local and international levels.