Local Editorials | Northwest Herald

Balancing our needs with the planet’s is a challenge for all of us

We’ve reached temperatures in the high 90s already, and that was before the official start of summer.

We’ve weathered heat waves before, of course, but they will become more common with global warming. As temperatures this week inch toward the 100-degree mark, we have two responsibilities: to keep ourselves and our families safe from the dangerous heat and to cool our homes with the greatest efficiency, thus reducing both our bills and our carbon footprint.

The Daily Herald’s new climate change reporter, Jenny Whidden, explored this important topic in her first article for us on June 14. It’s the kind of work you can expect to see in the coming months as she joins the Daily Herald in partnership with Report for America.

So what’s a homeowner to do as temperatures climb?

First off, make sure your air conditioning is in good working order. Units typically run on potent greenhouse gasses called hydrofluorocarbons. Leaks are harmful to the environment, so you want to make sure your unit is sound.

Experts advise residents to be mindful of overall air-conditioning usage.

Those with window units can limit air conditioning to one or two rooms. Ceiling fans can be a big help in keeping cool, allowing comfort at higher temperatures. Shades and blackout curtains block the sun.

Ralph Muehleisen, chief building scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, also suggests turning off electrical appliances when you don’t need them.

“Every bit of electricity coming into your house turns into heat,” Muehleisen told Whidden. “It’s not only wasting electricity, it’s generating heat.”

And that’s the last thing we need when Mother Nature is generating so much of her own.

Tips on how you can save energy will be a big part of our climate change coverage as we explore its effect on our weather, our water supply and our way of life.

Our partnership with Report for America is an important one, as is our new climate change reporter’s mission. If you’d like to donate to that mission, please go to events.dailyherald.com/climate.

Meanwhile, we would like to hear about local projects and concerns related to climate change, as well as ideas you have for coverage. Reach out to jwhidden@dailyherald.com to share your suggestions, and keep watching for expanded coverage.

In the meanwhile, stay safe and check on those who may be at risk from the heat. Temperatures this high are dangerous – even deadly.

The Daily Herald