Letter from Rep. Danou: Ways to save energy and stay safe during the summer heatOne just needs to look at the crops, grass and trees to realize our community has been dealing with very little rain and extreme heat.
By: Rep. Chris Danou, Pierce County Herald
One just needs to look at the crops, grass and trees to realize our community has been dealing with very little rain and extreme heat. While the forecasts indicate some relief from temperatures in the upper 90’s by the end of the week, we must remember it is only the beginning of July and we have a few more months of warm weather and chances of extreme heat ahead.
During this time utility bills can soar and there are simple things we can do to save on our energy costs and stay cool. Here are some tips from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to help you stay cool and keep your utility costs down during extreme heat:
• Turn off lights when leaving a room.
• Check weather-stripping and caulking for leaks around doors and windows.
• Use a microwave oven or cook outside instead of using the stove or oven.
• Minimize the amount of time your refrigerator and freezer doors are open.
• Use natural lighting and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Ninety percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb makes heat.
• Cover windows by closing blinds and curtains.
• Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house. A unit operating in the shade uses up to 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
• For long-term cooling, plant trees/shrubs to shade your house. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of a typical household's energy used for cooling.
• Use cold water for doing laundry and air dry clothes on clotheslines.
• Unplug electronics like computers, televisions, and radios when not in use.
• Set your dishwasher to air-dry mode and use it only when it's fully loaded.
• Turn on ceiling fans only when you're in the room.
• Clean and maintain your air conditioner often. Make sure air filters, air intakes, grilles, and radiators are unblocked and clean at all times. Clean dirt and leaves off coils on outdoor units.
For more information about conserving energy, visit the Summer Energy Tips page on PSC's website at http://psc.wi.gov/conservation/summerEnergyTips.htm.
Of course saving money on our utility bill isn’t the only thing to focus on during a heat wave. Last summer, five people died and more than one hundred people received medical treatment due to extreme heat. We must always remember that safety is our number one priority. Here are some tips to stay safe during extreme heat from Wisconsin Emergency Management within the Department of Military Affairs:
Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes. On an 80-degree day with sunshine, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked slightly can rise 20 to 30 degrees above the outside temperature in 10 to 20 minutes.
Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outdoor activity and recreation for the early morning or after dark when temperatures are cooler.
Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool…and don’t forget sunscreen!
Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.
Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down. A shower or bath will actually work faster than an air-conditioner. Applying cold wet rags to the neck, head and limbs also cools down the body quickly.
Pets and livestock can also suffer from the heat. Make sure all pets and livestock have access to cool, clean water and shade. Try to provide shade for all animals pastured outside. Consider adding shade cloth or tarps to an area to provide shade or open pastures to areas where trees or buildings provide shade. Limit exercising your pet to early morning or late evening hours when it is cooler. Some of the signs of heatstroke in pets include heavy panting, glazed eyes, and excessive thirst. Seek veterinary assistance immediately.
People at higher risk of a heat-related illness include:
• Older adults, infants and young children
• People with chronic heart or lung problems
• People with disabilities
• Overweight persons
• Those who work outdoors or in hot settings
• Users of some medications, especially those taken for mental disorders, movement disorder, allergies, depression, and heart or circulatory problems
• People who are isolated or don’t know when or how to cool off – or when to call for help
For lifesaving tips and other information, visit http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/http://readywisconsin.wi.gov or contact your county emergency management office, the National Weather Service or your local public health department.