Clark Public Utilities provides insight into summer cooling, what to expect


Clark Public Utilities is not bracing for an unexpected spike in energy usage this summer but does anticipate an uptick in energy usage for the warmest months of the year, as usual.

As spring turns to summer, Dameon Pesanti with Clark Public Utilities (CPU), provided some insight on what CPU expects this year, as well as ways to minimize energy usage.

With more homes being upgraded with some form of air conditioning (AC) and new construction homes in Clark County including AC or heat pumps as a standard, energy usage continues to rise in the summer and winter seasons. But, CPU is not expecting a high-energy use summer this year as forecasters predict a slightly cooler summer, overall, Pesanti said in an email.

“But we are aware that unforeseen heat waves can drive up energy demand, similarly to how winter storms do,” Pesanti stated. “While the utility expects summer energy consumption to be on average of that of the last couple of years, our financial budgets and energy forecasting models have prepared us for the possibility of heat waves and higher demands.”

Even though the summer could be cooler compared with recent years, people can take steps to cool down their homes without using energy or with a smart thermostat. “I feel like, we as Clark County residents and anybody who lives in the Pacific Northwest, we are very good at knowing how to save energy and be mindful of the thermostat to save and to keep our utility expenses low in the winter time,” Pesanti said. “I think that something that would be beneficial to all of us and myself included as a person who pays the power bill is to try to think about the summer air-conditioning season in the same vein as we do the winter heating ties. And with that, there’s a whole lot of behavioral changes that go a very long way.”

As previously reported, Pesanti said leaving windows or doors open overnight allows cool air to come inside of the home, essentially trapping it inside once the windows are closed, similar to how a cooler operates. He recommends doing that if the outside temperature feels cooler than the inside of the home and when night falls.

Once the temperature outside is warmer than the inside of the home, people should then close the windows or doors to trap the cool overnight air.

Another way people can stay cool is by taking a cold shower during the hottest part of the day. A cool shower can provide immediate relief. Pesanti said he uses the cool shower method and stays a little damp afterward, which helps his body temperature remain cooler for a longer time.

While people frequently use fans on a hot summer day, they often just blow the warm air around, which provides minimal relief. A variety of do-it-yourself creations can help cool a room more effectively than just a fan, however.

One option is to use a fan and a 5-gallon bucket. To make a room cooler, a person can cut holes in the side of the bucket and the lid, fill it with ice, and then place the fan so it blows down on the interior of the bucket, in essence creating a swamp cooler.

“By forcing that air across the ice, those things blow at like 65 degrees, and you know you’re paying nothing other than the cost of running the fan and the ice, either out of your fridge or buying it from the gas station,” Pesanti said in a previous article by the Reflector.