We have all heard the commercials about how lowering your thermostat by a few degrees in the winter and raising it by a few degrees in the summer will save you money. So why is that during the hottest days this September I was freezing in my room?
1. For reasons unknown to me (most likely cost or concern over usability) Santa Clara University chose thermostats with no on-off, no heating/cooling option, and no way to program it for when it should come on or off.
2. My roommates are used to having a cool house year round, regardless of the temperature outside.
For a school that seems so focused on being sustainable and saving money, I cannot begin to understand why they made such a fatal mistake. They have added 138 new townhouse units — all with their own thermostat and air-conditioning system that has been working overtime the first month of school.
I didn't realize just what a mistake Santa Clara had made until I went to turn down the AC. When I realized I couldn't just turn it off, I decided to raise the temperature on the thermostat so it would stop cooling and turn off. I went outside for a few minutes, and when I came back inside and stood under one of the vents I was hit in the face with hot air. Turning up the temperature turned on the heating in the middle of an 85 degree day. So instead of saving energy by turning up the thermostat, I had the apartment cycling back and forth between the AC and the heater.
With 17 percent of a typical U.S. home's energy bill coming from cooling, it's shocking to me that so much energy and carbon would be wasted. (I am currently trying to estimate how much money the university is wasting on our AC in the new units alone. If I can finally get the numbers I need I will update with it.)
If you do have a thermostat you can control, here are some things you can do to save energy, be more sustainable, and not freeze during the summer:
1. Close the windows: If you have the AC on, why let it all go outside? You can keep your AC on all day and the windows open, but the outside temperature won't go down and your house won't cool off either.
2. Turn the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter: A few degrees can save a lot of money and energy without sacrificing comfort.
3. Turn off your thermostat when you aren't home: If you can either program your thermostat or turn it off before you leave you will save the energy that would have been wasted to heat or cool your empty home all day.
4. Use cross ventilation through windows: Open up your windows in the best way to capture the cooling breeze.
5. Close the blinds during the day to block the suns heat.
6. Wear lighter clothing and work to keep yourself cool instead of bundling up in your favorite sweats on summers hottest day.