Although the calendar says summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, it’s been warm and balmy for about 2 months now, and I couldn’t be happier, although I must admit to enjoying the air conditioning after a hot, sweaty day and hitting the showers.
This brings up a serious issue in a sub-tropical area: energy usage, which is exacerbated by an ancient, crumbling architecture. Simply put, the century-old (and older) housing of New Orleans is a huge energy sink, on top of all the other issues (which I is a bit beyond the scope presented here). Heaped on top of this is an aging electric grid, that can easily be over-taxed and/or damaged by extreme weather. We are dealing with this currently at my home as we renovate an old “camelback shotgun”, utilizing very little outside professional help.
Some things may be more “feel good” measures than anything else (such as replacing incandescent bulbs with LED or fluorescent), and there are even charities which will assist people with this (often at no cost to the recipient).
There are some easy efficiency things anyone who is ambulatory can do, which cost relatively little money, such as:
1.Insulate one’s attic, if not the walls and floors
2.Sealing small openings to the outside of one’s home with caulking
3.Repairing/replacing old windows (Be careful of historic district rules on this!)
4.Heavily curtaining all windows (one can always open them to get some sun)
5.Isolating rooms not in use (close doors and any venting)
6.Install weather stripping to the bottom of all doors
7.Use a fan to supplement the AC
And, that’s just me thinking about this off the top of my head. Of course, there are many other actions one can take to get even greater efficiency, but they, of course, take time and money, such as noted here.
Entergy New Orleans, our local energy provider, has programs to assist in energy efficiency, but remember, they are in the business to make money, which means selling more energy to everyone; still, they do assist the disabled and elderly on limited incomes through their “Beat the Heat” program.
In the end, what should probably motivate people more than any “altruistic”, feel-good measure is that by modifying one’s home, in even minor ways, means that they will have more money in their pocket at the end of the day and feel quite comfortable at home.
Keep yourself cool and have a great summer!