By Barbara Kessler

Whether or not you believe global warming will affect you, your children or your distant descendants, a critical mass of scientists are issuing dire warnings.

Sure, some of them might be alarmists. But this is science. I don’t think they set out to scare us. So let’s consider the strong possiblity that their predictions and timetables are credible.

Take the latest report coming out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of scientists. It’s so scary, it sounds like an outline for one of those end-of-the-world movies. In fact, it is essentially about the end of the world as we know it. The scientists believe that the flooding and pestilence and water shortages of global warming are well on their way and will wreak havoc over the planet within decades. Read the full AP summary at AOL. Please. If the scientists are even correct on 25 percent of what they say, then we should all be shaken to action.

Which brings us to today’s five ideas for conserving energy use in the coming hot months:

  1. With the summer season nearly here, try delaying the onset of air conditioning. In Texas, where we really do roast in the summer, it’s not uncommon for folks to flip on the A/C on hot days in March.  It can get hot in March and April, but there are ways to get by. First, open the windows at night. It will cool down the house, which will be slower to heat up the next day. Second, assist this cool down by setting up crosswinds with the windows you choose to open.
  2. Shut the blinds against the sun during the day, a no-brainer idea that you’re probably already doing.  Additionally, shade west-facing windows with deciduous trees that block the light in the summer, but let it back in during the winter months.
  3. When you do turn on the air, set your thermostat no lower than 82 degrees for cooling. In climates where it naturally reaches 90+ in the summer this is healthier for you anyway. The spread between your indoor temperature an outdoor temperature should be no more than 10 degrees. That’s a bit hard to achieve on days when it’s 102 outside, but a good guideline for the rest of the summer.
  4. Consider adding an arbor or overhang to extend the shade over your patio or porch and thereby cool down those exposed windows.
  5. Blow cold air on A/C in restaurants and other public places. I used to always joke about how I had to get out a sweater with the onset of summer here in the South. That I shivered so much in summer struck me as quite ironic, having grown up in a cooler climate in the Upper Midwest where a summer sweater was intended for cool days or evenings outdoors. Given how global warming is ruining our environment, I no longer think of this sweater business as funny. So I’ve pledged to mention it when I’m too cold inside public places. I think a polite word to the manager about the venue being uncomfortably chilly is a reasonable way to address this issue. I recognize that not everyone is as cold-natured as me, still I’ve often looked around to see others bundling against excessive blasts of indoor A/C. Nothing cool about it anymore.