Save energy this summer -- and beat the heat. All it takes is a few basic environmentally friendly principles to help keep your house cool without air conditioning and cut down on your electricity bills. Try these 10 simple tips.
1) Hot Air Out, Cool Air In
The most basic thing you can do to keep your house cooler without air conditioning is to block as much (hot) daylight out as possible and let cooler air in at night. During the day, close windows, drapes, blinds or shades, especially on the southern and western sides of your home. If you have a porch, you can put up large plastic or bamboo shades to cut down on sunlight. Open windows and draperies after the sun sets. At night, leave cabinets open as well, so they don't store heat.
Use white or light colored window treatments to reflect light – right out of your home. You can also apply reflective slicks to your windows to further cut down on light.
3) Be a Fan of the Fan
Moving air is cooler air. At night, place fans in windows to bring more cool air in. Ceiling fans can also make a big difference. In terms of cooling, even a one-mile-per-hour breeze will make you feel three to four degrees cooler. In terms of energy savings, if you run a ceiling fan full-blast for 12 hours, you will only spend about $10 a month in electricity. Ceiling fans have two settings, one to pull air up (for winter use), and the other to push air down. Make sure your ceiling fan is blowing down.
4) Turn Your Fan into an Air Conditioner
Another easy way to cool your home without air conditioning is to place a bowl of ice or a frozen milk jug in front of one or more fans.
5) What's Hot in Your Home?
It's one thing to keep hot air and sunlight out; it's another to identify the appliances in your home that generate heat. If you aren't at home during the day, simply shut off as many electric appliances as possible before you leave in the morning. If you spend more of your day at home, try to minimize use of heat-generating appliances. For example, cook in the microwave instead of on the stovetop or in the regular oven. Or, let your dishes air dry in your dishwasher instead of heat-drying.
6) Electronics Are Hot, Too
Keeping your electronics on a power strip provides a quick way to "power down" before leaving your house for the day.
7) Light Bulbs
Change incandescent bulbs for cooler fluorescent or LED bulbs. Turn off lights when not in use.
Humidity makes a room hotter. Do laundry early or late in the day. Take showers or baths during the cooler times of day. If your bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen have exhaust fans, use them. Invest in a dehumidifier if you live in a humid climate.
9) Insulate Your Attic
A well-insulated attic, especially in combination with an attic ventilating fan, is one of the best ways to keep heat out of your home.
As you design landscaping for your home, be mindful of having deciduous trees, trellises and shrubbery adjacent to the southern and western portions of your home. Don't place heat-absorbing rocks, cement or asphalt too close to the house.
With a small amount of planning, you are on your way to a cooler and more enjoyable summer. For those really hot days when only air conditioning will do, call a reliable HVAC pro for the most energy-efficient installation.