Stay cool, cut energy bill during central Kentucky heat wave

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Summer is here, and Lexington residents can expect a heat index Tuesday and Wednesday reaching 109 degrees, according to a heat advisory issued Monday by the National Weather Service Louisville.

The advisory, which remains in effect until 9 p.m. Wednesday, was issued for a swath of central counties across Kentucky, including Fayette, as well as parts of south central Indiana.

Forecasters are urging residents to be mindful of the heat and remain on alert for signs of heat-related illnesses. Lexington also opened two public cooling stations Tuesday, and is offering free transportation to the sites via Lextran.

For those who can stay home, or simply want to keep things comfortable without running up a high bill, here’s some suggestions from the U.S. Department of Energy to combat the high temperatures.

Use fans and ventilation wisely

Turn the fan on in the bathroom while you bathe to reduce heat and humidity. You might also use a fan in your kitchen and laundry room if available, and make sure your kitchen and bathroom fans vent to the outside.

Leaving the ceiling fan on when you’re not in the room won’t help cool it down, because fans cool people with a wind-chill effect. They don’t actually reduce the temperature of a room.

Make the most out of your air conditioner

Vacuum your air vents regularly to remove dust. Make sure you don’t have furniture or other items blocking vents. It’s important to schedule regular maintenance on your air conditioner to try to avoid large, surprise issues.

Don’t place lamps or electronics near your thermostat. The device may sense the heat from your TV set and run the air conditioner longer than is actually needed.

Cover your windows

Window coverings can help keep heat outside. You can use blinds, curtains, plastic films, exterior shades or storm windows as insulation. According to the Department of Energy, about 30% of your home’s energy is lost through windows.

Utilizing a form of window shade can significantly reduce the amount of heat let into your home and subsequently lower your energy bill. Another window treatment option is an exterior solar screen. These can reduce heat gain, UV damage and glare while still typically allowing outside views and light transmission.

Think twice about your thermostat setting

Keep your thermostat at a higher temperature than normal when you are away from the home while keeping in mind any pets you may be leaving behind.

When you get home, avoid setting a temperature that’s lower than your typical temperature. It doesn’t cool your home any faster, but it can add to your energy bill. If you’re trying to cool down quickly as you wait for your thermostat to adjust, you can focus on hydration or wash your face with cold water.

Other ways to cut costs and fight heat

You can lower your water heating costs while protecting against scalding by setting your water heater temperature to 120 degrees or lower.

Another precaution you can take is to air-seal cracks and openings to prevent heat from seeping into your home. Caulking is generally used to seal openings around door and window frames, while weatherstripping seals moving components like doors and windows.

If you can hold off on dishes and laundry, washing a full load is more efficient than using multiple smaller cycles.

Do you have a question about the weather in Kentucky for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out our Know Your Kentucky Form or email

Meredith Howard is a service journalist with the Belleville News-Democrat. She is a Baylor University graduate and has previously freelanced with the Illinois Times and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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