Summer’s heat is less welcome inside than out. Cranking up the air conditioning is how many people think of to cool off, but there are other steps homeowners can take to help keep cool without the high energy consumption associated with air conditioning.
If air conditioning is warranted, there are ways to maximize cooling without lowering the temperature setting unnecessarily. Positioning a fan near a window air conditioner unit will help distribute the cool air over a larger area. Providing shade can help an outdoor central air conditioner compressor use less energy. Also, filters should be cleaned or replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions to help ensure the system is running at its best. When considering a new air conditioner, look for models with the Energy Star label. Newer air conditioners are far more efficient than units just 8-10 years old. Using an inexpensive programmable thermostat with the air conditioning system is another good way to regulate the temperature throughout the day, especially while no one is at home.
Here are some other ways to keep cool without the high energy consumption associated with air conditioning:
Close the window coverings on the south- and west-facing sides of the home early in the morning and keep them closed until dusk. If the outside-facing sides of the window coverings are white, they’ll reflect heat and reduce temperature buildup even more. Use ceiling fans to move air around, which will make the room seem several degrees cooler. Be sure to adjust the rotation of the ceiling fan to its summer setting so that the air blows down into the room. Portable fans are effective, inexpensive and convenient, and can be placed almost anywhere for additional air circulation.
For hot-weather meal preparation, use the microwave or outdoor grill whenever possible. Run the dishwasher at night and set it for non-heated drying. Similarly, laundry can be done early in the morning or in the evening instead of at the height of the day’s heat. For both dishes and laundry, wash full loads to save on energy – the house will stay cooler, too, since the appliances will run less often.
Turn off unnecessary lights, even CFLs, everywhere in the house. Use power strips for computers, televisions, etc. and switch them off when those items aren’t being used. “Smart” power strips have a combination of always-on outlets and switchable outlets, allowing some items plugged into the strip to stay on while others are shut off.
These simple ideas will help homeowners stay cool and comfortable all summer long while saving money and preventing wasted energy.