Summer is quickly approaching which means we’ll all soon be trying to escape the heat. Many people will escape the heat without even thinking about it: they’ll just simply press a button and turn on the good ol’ air conditioner. But running an AC is taxing on our wallets and on our environment even more.
With that in mind, here are some smart and sustainable ways you can stay cool this summer, all while saving money and helping your electric company reduce its emissions.
Keep Out the Heat
The first step in keeping your house cool is to keep the heat out in the first place. How can you do this? A few different ways. Try covering your windows with light-colored blinds on the inside, or awnings on the outside, or a combination of both. Also, consider planting shade trees, particularly on the west side of your home. And finally, you’d be surprised how much cooler your house would be if you turned off any unnecessary electronics like computers, TVs and lights.
Get the Air Moving
Moving the air in your home, even just a little bit, can make a dramatic difference to the temperature. We suggest installing a ceiling fan in the main rooms of your house to increase the air circulation. If this is not possible, portable fans may also be used.
Open the Windows at Night
In many parts of the country, it is hot during the day but dramatically cooler at night. One effective way to cool your house is to do a night air flush. You will need to install a well-sealed and insulated whole house fan. The idea is that the fan draws in the cool evening air and flushes out the hot air. If you don’t have or can’t install a whole house fan, you can still use this concept. Simply open the windows at night – using cross ventilation if possible – and close them again in the morning, drawing shades and awnings to keep the house nice and cool.
Make Sure Your Home Has a Tight Envelope
This tip will demand a little money and/or elbow grease, but it will be well worth the money and/or effort. If your house gets unbearably warm during the summer there’s a very good chance it’s not well insulated. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. Consider adding insulation and checking around all of your windows and doors for any leaks. Better yet, consider replacing old windows with new ones which will keep the cold out in the winter and the cool in the summer. But don’t spend money on new windows until you make sure your house has been properly insulated first.
Paint Your Roof
Do you know why people tend to wear white in the summer and black in the winter? Because the color white reflects light while the color black absorbs it. Well, think about your roof. Chances are you have a typical shingle roof that is very dark. Now think about the sun beating down on it all day long. This is one way a ton of heat is being absorbed into your house. You can change this by painting your roof white.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Climate Change Research Conference stated if buildings and road surfaces in 100 of the largest cities across the country were covered with lighter and heat-reflective surfaces, the savings could be massive. Take a note from this and get out that paint!
Staying cool during the summer months truly doesn’t have to cost you (or the planet) an arm and a leg. Most of these tips are just common sense and what our ancestors did to stay cool. Happy Summer!