The last thing anyone needs is a higher energy bill, especially during the summer when we’re supposed to be using less energy! Reducing the use of air conditioners requires a bit of a change in thinking: instead of focusing on cooling down a hot room, focus on keeping hot air out and cool air in. Therefore, several of the ideas below provide the opposite effect in the winter of keeping the cold out and the heat in. The following list features several instant fixes, as well as a few long term energy-saving investments that will keep you chillin’ without ever touching the air conditioner.
1. Choose Your Curtains Wisely: A quality set of blackout curtains can block up to 99% of sunlight from entering your home. These curtains serve a threefold purpose: keeping heat in during the winter, blocking direct light and preventing cooling loss during the summer, and keeping a room dark for better sleep. They are an excellent investment in the energy efficiency and comfort of your home, and are typically not very expensive. During the summer it’s a good idea to place white curtains behind them, facing the outdoors, to reflect as much light as possible, because the color black does absorb light (and thus heat).
3. Time to Repaint?: One of the best ways to keep your house cool is to make sure that your roof is reflecting light rather than absorbing it. Paint it white or a very light color for best results. The same goes for the rest of your home: the lighter the color, the more light will be reflected.
4. Create a Wind Tunnel: This can be done with any two windows in your home, but for the best effect, choose a basement window and an attic window (or the lowest and highest window in your home). Place a box fan into the upper window facing out, and feel the cool breeze move through the house!
5. Shut Off the Lights: It may not seem like a big deal. How much heat can one little 60 watt light bulb produce, anyway? But the collective heat from all the light sources in your home can make a signiciant impact on the temperature. Turn off lights in any room you’re not using. Incandescent bulbs create much more heat than compact fluorescent bulbs, so consider replacing your bulbs as well.
6. Smart Landscaping: Plant deciduous trees and shrubs on your home’s east and west sides to absorb the sun’s energy and shield your home from light and heat. Deciduous trees will grow leaves in the summer to block the sun, and drop them in the winter to let the light and heat in. Avoid plain rocks, asphalt, and cement around your home because they absorb heat during the day and radiate it out during the evening even after the temperature has dropped.
7. Reduce Humidity: Minimize your use of appliances that require water and heat: cooking, washing clothes, washing dishes, showering, etc. In addition to not using heat-producing appliances during the hottest parts of the day, reducing humidity helps keep your living spaces more comfortable, even if the temperature doesn’t go down.
8. Awnings: Installing awnings on your window/porch/deck can reduce up to 65% of solar heat gain (the amount temperature rises because of sunshine).
9. Fans are Your Friends: As mentioned in number 4, strategic placement of fans can give incredible results. Install ceiling fans in common rooms of your home, place a frozen water bottle in front of your fan for instantly colder air, and remember that the purpose of a fan is not to cool a room, it’s to cool you. The circulating air evaporates moisture from your skin, cooling you off. So it will do you no good to leave a fan running in a room if you’re not in it.
10. Insulation: This one falls along the lines of keeping the cool in and heat out: make sure that your home, especially your attic, is properly insulated. Check the seals on your doors and windows as well. If your home is older it may be a good idea to replace them completely.
Do you have some recommendations? What do you do to keep your home cool in the summer? Share your ideas below!
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