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Keeping AC bills down

With high temperatures expected to return this weekend and into next week, you may be running up your power bill to keep the air conditioning going. Here are some energy-saving tips from Duke Energy:

  • A new high efficiency air conditioner can use about half the energy of older models. If your AC is less than 10 years old, maintain it well; if it is more than 10 years old, you may want to look into replacing it with a new high-efficiency model.
  • During summer months, set the thermostat to the highest comfortable setting. Adjusting it even a few degrees up can lead to significant savings on electric bills. Energy Star recommends a minimum set point of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Clean or replace HVAC filters at least monthly, and keep coils on an exterior AC unit free of dirt, grass clippings and leaves. HVAC systems should be checked regularly by a qualified contractor. Humidity can make an AC unit have to work harder. “While it’s tempting to give your AC unit a rest on cooler nights and open the windows instead, it might be better to keep the windows closed to keep drier, cooler air indoors,” according to Duke Energy.
  • Also, if hot weather is forecast for the next day, keep the AC on — and doors and windows closed through the night — to keep humidity out.
  • Use ceiling fans or oscillating fans to circulate air in rooms. Turn fans off when you leave a room.
  • Close drapes, curtains and blinds on hot, sunny days.
  • Turn off any lights that aren’t necessary, especially the older types that emit more heat.
  • Seal air leaks with caulking and weather stripping.
  • Minimize door traffic to keep cool air inside. In your attic, repair leaky duct work and add insulation to prevent cool air inside your home from escaping.

Q: Where did the term “OK” come from? It’s been around a long, long time.

E.R.

Answer: Actually, not as long as you might expect.

“OK first appeared as an abbreviation for ‘Oll Korrect,’ printed in a satirical article about grammar,” according to an article at Smithsonian.com. In an 1839 article in the Boston Morning Post newspaper, Charles Gordon Greene used it as a joking abbreviation, mocking a fad at the time of deliberately misspelling and then abbreviating words with a deliberately absurd example. (OW, for “oll wright,” was a real example of what he was mocking).

“While it may not seem too humorous now, the joke was a knee-slapper at the time,” according to Boston Magazine. “Instead of eliciting a few chuckles, his joke entered American popular vocabulary.”

According to Smithsonian, “The word’s origins were only revealed in the 1960s, however, when etymologist Allen Read did some digging — through suggestions that the word might come from Europe, a Civil War nickname for biscuits, or an abbreviation for the telegraph term Open Key.

“Still others falsely thought that president Martin Van Buren had invented the term in his presidential campaign, which used the slogan ‘Vote for OK’ in reference to both his hometown and his nickname, Old Kinderhook, the Economist writes. But Van Buren only popularized the term, Read found, not invented it.”

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