It’s getting hot (or cold) in here

“The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.”E.F. Schumacher

E.F. Schumacher had it right: Technology can’t seem to regulate itself the same way nature can. But, some creations in this technological age do have the ability to make some of their own adjustments, and programmable thermostats are a good example.

Photo courtesy ductlesscooling.com

Photo courtesy ductlesscooling.com

These thermostats can be programed to automatically reduce heating and cooling in your home when you don’t need as much, and they are one of the easiest ways you can save energy, money and help fight global warming.

We’re currently in the throes of summer, and temperatures can get a bit uncomfortable. Informational “going green” Web site thedailygreen.com states that cooling accounts for nearly half the energy used by the average home during the summer, according to the EPA. Energy Star broadens that sad picture, explaining that the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills — nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling.

Photo courtesy guardian.co.uk

Photo courtesy guardian.co.uk

By using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air conditioning through a pre-set schedule, according to the US Department of Energy. For every degree you lower the thermostat in the winter or raise it in the summer, you’ll save between 1 percent and 3 percent of your heating and cooling bill. You can save around 10 percent a year of your bill by simply turning your thermostat back 10 degrees to 15 degrees for eight hours.

Programmable thermostats can cost as little as $30 to as much as $300 depending on how fancy you get them, although they will pay for themselves in energy savings.

But what if you’re either a.) not in the market for a thermostat, or b.) don’t have a thermostat to replace? Well, there are other options. Another energy-saving solution is to purchase a Cool-n-Save, which attaches to almost any home air conditioning unit. The system costs about $100, but it’s supposed to save you 30 percent on your electric bill.

Additional options involve working with what you already have. The US Department of Energy suggests keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away and lowering the setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. Or, if you really want to save (and don’t have pets at home that need a cooler temperature), try turning off your air conditioner about 10 minutes before you leave the house, so that you still feel cool prior to heading out. You should also be sure to clean and to maintain your air-conditioning unit properly.

Photo courtesy bhgrealestate.com

Photo courtesy bhgrealestate.com

The best option for saving energy and money: Don’t use an air conditioner at all. E/The Environmental Magazine suggests using table top or ceiling fans, which use about only 1/30th the electricity of a room air conditioner. Even better yet, just throw open a couple windows and let nature do its thing.

As Schumacher said, nature is self-balancing, self-adjusting and self-cleansing. Why not let a little bit of that goodness flow through your house now and then? It’ll beat air conditioning any day, I guarantee it.

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