Eco-Friendly Ways To Keep Your House Cool During The Hot Summer Months

Jun 26 2012

For many homeowners, summertime means leaving your air conditioner running almost nonstop, which can raise your utility bills to astronomical numbers, as well as being potentially damaging to the environment. At the Land Institute in Kansas, it was calculated that air conditioning in the average US home emits 1,500 kg of carbon dioxide each year. By being a little more careful and vigilant, there are a lot of ways that we can keep our homes cool in the summer without relying solely on air conditioning.

1. Insulation
Insulation is the easiest way to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but it can be quite costly to re-insulate an entire home. When building a house from the ground up, do not skimp on insulation! Proper insulation will save untold money over the years. EPS (expended polystyrene) insulation is incredibly cost-effective and efficient.

Remember, heat rises, so start at the top. An attic with efficient insulation and an attic ventilating fan keeps heat out and air moving. If you decide that installing new insulation is the way to go, start with the attic, and then work your way down. The difference will be noticeable in both your interior temperature as well as your cooling and heating bills.

2. Window protection
Insulation alone is not enough. It’s the sun that puts the most heat in your home, so we need to figure out how to keep as much sun out as possible. By shading your windows, you can cut down on a huge amount of solar heat. A simple way is to install heavy blinds and keep them drawn during the daytime. There are also tinted solar screens that can be installed on your windows. They cost a little bit more, but there are advantages: you can still look out the windows while blocking the sun, and you will also have a little more privacy from your neighbors and passers-by.

3. Daily Monitoring
This is probably the most difficult technique for most homeowners. Air conditioning is easy. When it’s warm inside, turn it on, and when it’s cool, turn it off. If you want to save money and make your home more eco-friendly, you must get away from this cycle.

Remember how your mom always got after you for leaving the fridge open and letting all the cold air out? Your house works the same way. Leave your doors and windows closed and shaded during the daytime, and open up your house and let it breathe at night. Be careful, however. If you leave your windows open at night and forget to close them during the day, all the cool air you gathered will quickly turn hot. Leaving windows open all night can be dangerous from a security standpoint, so use good judgment.

4. Proper Use of Fans
Fans have been used for years and years, so this one seems obvious, but there are techniques that will improve the efficiency of your fans. Let’s start by examining box fans. They are very helpful in windows to pull cool air from the outside (as long as it’s cooler outside than inside). By putting three or four fans in strategic windows in the home, you can have a constant supply of cool air. Use one box fan, however, as an exhaust fan. Put a box fan in one of the higher windows in the house facing outward, but make sure that there is a tight seal around that fan. By pushing out the warm air and then blocking it from coming right back in, you create a vacuum in the home that the cool outside air will fill. Again, only use this technique in the evening and nighttime, when it’s cooler outside.

Ceiling fans can keep the air circulating so that a house does not feel stagnant during the day. Put small desk fans in other rooms to keep the air moving around. Moving air, even if it’s not cold, will aid in evaporation, which is what keeps our skin cool.

5. Use Your Appliances Wisely
This is something that should be common sense, but it’s forgotten all too often. Want to keep your home cool while you’re making dinner? Try cooking outside on the barbeque instead of inside in the oven. Ovens and burners put more heat into the home, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid. You might be surprised at how many dishes can be prepared on a grill.

Even though it may seem insignificant, lamps also let off heat during the day, so leave them off as much as possible, and switch from incandescent lights to high-efficiency fluorescent lights. There are simple questions you can ask yourself about appliances, like “Is turning this on going to generate heat?” If the answer is yes, the next question should be, “Do I need to have this on or can I live without it?”

Family Eating On PorchAre your kids complaining about the heat? Hand them a popsicle and shove them out the front door. Run your favorite beat-up cap in cold water before you put it on. Keep cold water in the fridge and stay well hydrated. By tricking your body into thinking that it’s cool, summer heat can be a lot more tolerable. Eat outside when you can. Its cooler in the evening and the fresh and moving air outside will feel cooler than the warmer stagnant air inside.

6. Vigilance
It’s not convenient to get away from your overworked AC units, but it can make a huge impact on your budget as well as on the environment. Get in the habit of being aware of what’s going on around you. As you notice things that make your house warmer, stop them. As you notice things that keep your house cool, do them more often. Take cool air in whenever you can, let warm air out, and have a great summer!

Arianna Davis works in a variety of roles for Shafer Services including human resources and marketing. She enjoys writing and fixing things big and small. Shafer Services is a San Antonio AC and heating company with years of experience in helping customers with their HVAC needs.

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