CUB Urges Chicago Residents To Stay Safe, Cool During Dangerous Heat

Contact:
Jim Chilsen, chilsen@citizensutilityboard.org, (312) 513-1784

CHICAGO, July 20, 2016—With potentially dangerous heat descending on the Chicago region Thursday and Friday, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) released tips on how residents can keep their homes cool, safe and energy efficient.

“You should never keep your home too hot because you’re worried about the electric bill,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. “There are ways to stay safe and cool without breaking the bank.”

The National Weather Service predicted temperatures in the 90s on Thursday and Friday, with a heat index (a measure of how hot it feels) up to 115 degrees. CUB posted the following tips on its website, at www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org, and invited Chicagoans to share their own tips:

  • Be safe. Raising your thermostat by only two degrees and using a ceiling fan can lower air conditioning costs by up to 14 percent over the summer. But be smart about it—don’t raise the temperature to an unsafe level. Many utilities recommend setting your thermostat at 74-78 degrees when you’re at home.
  • Use fans. Fans alone aren’t adequate in a heat wave, but they can be used with an air conditioner—so you don’t have to blast the AC. Run a ceiling fan counter-clockwise, from your position looking up at it, to create a downdraft, and make sure to turn off your fan when you leave the room. (Fans cool people, not rooms.)
  • Avoid hot tasks. Delay heat-producing tasks, such as dishwashing, baking, or laundry, until the cooler night or early morning hours. Consider grilling out, to keep the kitchen from overheating and your AC from over-working. If grilling isn’t for you, make meals in the microwave instead.
  • Shut it off. Turn off and unplug extra appliances that just produce more heat and make your home hotter (TV, computers, laptops, lights, and gadgets like your phone charger).
  • Give your AC a break. Prevent hot air from seeping in by sealing the gaps around windows and doors. Shut blinds or shades during the sunny daytime hours to prevent your air conditioner from working harder to cool the home.
  • Clean filters. Clean your air conditioning unit’s filter at least once every three months. It’s an easy way to improve the unit’s performance and to save energy.
  • Close doors. If your air conditioner is running, make sure to close doors to rooms you don’t use often. The smaller the space to cool, the less work it takes for your system to cool it down.
  • Open windows. If it gets cool in the evening hours, consider opening a window to let the breeze in. Seal up the house again in the morning.
  • Drink plenty of water. Sip about four to eight glasses of fluids a day, but avoid alcohol and caffeine, which promote dehydration.
  • Be a neighborhood hero. Make sure your neighbors have a safe and cool place to stay during hot weather. Illinois has free cooling centers. (For more information on the centers, call the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at 1-800-843-6154 during normal business hours.) Movie theaters, shopping malls, public libraries and the homes of friends and family also can be cool places of refuge.

Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, the nonprofit utility watchdog group has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more details, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, 1-800-669-5556, or visit CUB’s award-winning website, www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.