The heat is back on

bret curry

Bret Curry is the residential energy
manager for Arkansas Electric Cooperative

How quickly we forget. If I were to ask you to recall what the high temperatures were like from the past two summers what would come to mind? I recalled that they were below normal, but to check my memory I dove into a monthly degree-day comparison resource I use when reviewing temperature data. Sure enough, summer temperatures, thus far, were cooler the past two years.

Available comparative data at the time I wrote this column in mid-July, indicated that the amount of cooling degree-days are up 10 percent for the first two weeks of July 2016 versus the same time last year. Compare the first two weeks of this July to 2014, and cooling degree-days are up 21 percent. As a reminder, cooling degree-days are a way to measure in degree-days, and for how long in days, when the outside air temperature is higher than a chosen comfort parameter. That period is a balance point, or when a home or building does not require air conditioning. In other words, when somebody in your household says it’s time to turn on the air conditioner because they are uncomfortable, that’s their balance point, and then cooling degree-days come into play. Although individual comfort and thermostat settings may vary, summer temperatures play a big part in cooling degree-days, and in the amount of additional energy required to keep you comfortable. More important, additional cooling degree-days equate to a higher electric bill.

Speaking of heat, let us not forget a law of nature on our wonderful planet earth. When the temperature inside of our home is cooler than outside, heat will always move toward that cooler area. Stopping heat from moving into our home is impossible. Yet, insulation thermal barriers and air sealing will provide resistance to heat transfer. When properly installed, these components improve comfort and reduce cooling costs.

Furthermore, the electric, natural gas and propane consumer appliances inside our homes bless us with modern conveniences, but curse us with a byproduct — heat. What would be the last thing you’d want in your home on a hot summer day? You guessed it — more heat!  Please note the accompanying infrared images that illustrate a few common consumer appliances and the heat they are contributing to the home.


Toasters emit heat much like a space heater without a fan. Ovens add heat to the home.


Hair dryers heat your home while drying your hair.  All dryers emit heat into the home while drying clothes.

I’m not advocating sacrificing comfort or modern conveniences, but simply want to show you that regular use of many appliances can and do impact the cost to cool your home. Remember, regardless of their power source, all appliances, while in use, will add some heat into your home.

Please feel free to contact me at with any energy efficiency questions. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook at www., as well as listen to our podcasts.