The angry red “hot” zones on the weather map appear to cover the entire United States. As the TV weatherman forecasts day after day of triple-digit heat and rehashes the extent of the 2012 drought, I almost shiver. Not from the cold in this air conditioned house. But from anxiety and concern about this abnormal weather pattern and what it means.
This isn’t helping.
So I focus on what I can do about the situation: 1.) Pray for rain. 2.) Pray some more. 3.) Reduce water consumption with shorter showers and by recycling water for plants.
And there’s a lot more, I think, as energy-saving habits engrained after many hot summers in the Midwest come to mind:
- Keep the thermostat at 78 degrees. (Confession: it’s lower at my house, though not much, for marital harmony)
- Use major appliances during nonpeak hours
- Circulate the air with ceiling fans counter-clockwise in summer (Keeps the room as much as 5 – 10 degrees cooler)
- Close the blinds during the hottest part of the day
These are simple things, easy to understand, practice, remember and share, learned over the years from various electric utilities. You see, those power and energy companies educated me. They explained what happens in the summer when there is too much pressure on the power grid, causing rolling blackouts, pushing our electric bills higher.
They were following Rule No. 4 in our “Rules of the Road for Reputation Management”: With Knowledge Comes Support. It’s harder to curse the big, bad utility when you understand a little about how the system works.
Next, they told me what they were doing about an overloaded grid (buying power from other sources, instituting what amounts to rationing during peak hours) and building a new coal-fired power plant. The last one didn’t make me happy, but at least they followed our Rule No. 7: Transparency Matters Most When It’s Hardest. Transparency may seem counter-intuitive in corporate environments, but we counsel our clients in sustainability communications to communicate openly and honestly.
Finally, they asked for help and engaged with me to address a problem. Running the dishwasher at 3 a.m.? Easy-peasy and maybe, just maybe, helping.