Summer is here in the states! As the summer temperatures heat up, people want to stay cool—and there are several ways to do that sustainably in our homes.
Air conditioning is one of the clearest ways to cool your home—but it uses a large amount of electricity, and with the price of utilities rising, so too are the costs associated with running the AC. Home air conditioning costs homeowners more than $29 billion annually, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
In warmer climates, as much as 20-50% of your annual energy use can go to cooling your house. This is impacting our pocketbooks and our environment. Some reports suggest AC use in the U.S. creates an annual average of about 100 million tons of CO2 power plant emissions.
While many of us likely won’t do away with the AC altogether, there are many small changes we can make that will lessen our impact. The U.S. Dept. of Energy points to many, such as fans, evaporative coolers, and heat pumps. We may also consider things like insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, daylighting, weather stations, shading, and ventilation. Let’s explore these ideas and some others for how to stay cool this summer.
Be mindful of the exterior of your home. Tint your windows or apply reflective film on them to keep the interior of your home cooler. Lighter colors for the exterior of the home—both on the exterior walls and roof—can help make the home a little cooler. Window shades and awnings can considerably reduce heat from the sun as well. Weather stations can also give you the insight into when to lower and open your shading on your home keeping it cooler at optimal times.
Consider creative landscaping to keep your home cooler naturally! Plant vines on the south side of your home can help reduce the heat. Consider planting trees in strategic locations to provide shade. Naturally cool a room with plants.
Inside your residence, make sure you insulate your attic and choose a higher efficiency air conditioner for the greatest possible savings. Consider an evaporative cooler, or a swamp cooler, which is a water-based cooling apparatus that allows you to lower the intensity of the heat.
Use fans! I have specified this one a few times other blogs but changing the direction of your fan to counter-clockwise during the summer months can keep your home cooler by pushing the cooler air down right in the direction you need it to be.
Let’s face it, appliances and electronic devices cause a lot of unnecessary heat. Unplug electronic devices, when not in use. Avoid running high-powered appliances until nighttime like the dishwasher and other kitchen appliances. Microwave, no cook, or crockpot meals use considerably less heat than other appliances.
Keep windows closed during the day to avoid letting heat in and open them at night. Enjoy that breeze in the cooler summer evenings.
While changing the type of energy used might not be an option for everyone, some do have options. Solar panels are one, which I have already explored in depth. Another option would be to choose a 100% renewable electricity supply if your state’s electric utilities allow it.
Have you ever tried any of these methods? How are you planning to stay cool this summer?
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