With the hot summer months upon, keeping cool is on practically everyone’s mind. Cranking up the air conditioning may seem like a great idea, but the truth is that it uses a lot of energy, especially if you have an older and less efficient air conditioning unit or system. So the next time the temperatures hit the 80s and 90s, check out these tips to keep you cool and green at the same time.
As summer approaches, it’s time to start thinking about how to handle higher temperatures without letting cooling costs destroy your budget. If outdoor temperatures are somewhat comfortable, you can save a lot of money by using natural ventilation to cool your home.
While the idea may sound simple, proper ventilation goes well beyond simply opening windows and doors. First, there are a few concepts you’ll need to understand before trying to properly ventilate your home.
Running a fan is a much greener way to help circulate air in your home, especially on days when it isn’t stifling hot. Open a window and point the back of the fan towards the outside. This will pull in cooler air into your house and help move it around. Stagnant air is what keeps your house extremely warm during summer days. Additionally, as D. Britt’s article Keeping Cool with No Air Conditioning at Home says, box fans and ceiling fans are a great way to stay cool during the summer, especially if you have no air conditioning. As an extra tip, which I’ve learned from living in a dorm room at college, you can keep your dorm, apartment, or any small room in your house cooler by putting a fan in front of your air conditioner. It circulates the cool air much better that way.
Use Blackout Drapes
Drapes are a marvelous invention. They have the ability to lock in temperatures within your house and also keep the sun out. Investing in drapes for all your windows that get the most amount of sunlight can help bring your energy bill down. As an extra tip, blinds work well since you can easily adjust how much sunlight comes into your home. This is great for winter as well! There are many benefits to using black out drapes especially, just as Voice of Style’s article The Benefits of Using Black Out Curtains says. They can aid in both sleep and energy efficiency of your home.
Keeping your house in the shade can keep temperatures cooler too. A great tip is to plant trees near your windows in order to allow shade to cover them. It can often be 10 degrees cooler in the shade, so this will help keep your home much cooler. Also, hanging planters work extremely well too. There are more benefits to planting trees to your landscape, just as Georgia Lund suggests in her article Benefits of Planting a Flowering Tree to Your Landscape. Her article states that planting trees can easily beautify your landscape without taking up a large portion of either of your yards.
Install Energy Efficient Windows
Oftentimes windows can be old and outdated, especially if you moved into an older house or apartment. They almost always allow cool air to seep outside and make your energy bill shoot through the roof too. Instead, make sure you have updated windows in your home that are seep-proof and have low-e glass. Low-e glass is extremely efficient and eco-friendly. A great article to check out if you want to install eco-friendly and green windows in your house is Thomas H Forthe’s article Installing New Energy Efficient Windows in Your Home.
Avoid Using Large Appliances When Possible
Using appliances that create heat will make your home even hotter during the harsh summer months. One thing you can do is avoid using the oven or stove unless extremely necessary. Instead, try using the microwave or ordering food out or for delivery. It will keep your home a lot cooler. As an added tip, consider E. Lecia Keaton’s article Keep the Electric Bill Low While Battling Summer Heat, which suggests only using appliances that create heat during the early morning or late evening hours of the day when temperatures are the coolest. This will certainly keep your home cool during the hot summer months.
Keep Your Air Conditioning Under Control
Leave the thermostat set at 70 degrees and keep the fan on the air handler on all the time. One of the downfalls of forced air systems is that when the thermostat reaches the set point temperature, it shuts off the fan right away. Keeping the fan running allows the air to continue to be cooled as the air blows across the evaporator coil in the air handling unit. This simple method will save you between 10 and 30% on your electric bill because your air conditioning will run much less. The temperature in your home will also be more consistent.
The use of ceiling fans in the summer time can make a huge impact in circulating the air properly. One of the biggest aspects of keeping the the air cool in your home is proper mixing of the air. Because registers are located on walls, the cool air often sits against the wall unless it is moved by another fan, mixing this air with the warm air in the room. In general, ceiling fans should be installed in every bedroom, especially upstairs spaces to help with proper circulation of the air. Just the movement of the air will create a cooler feeling air temperature. Using ceiling fans will allow you to not need air conditioning on moderately hot days.
Opening windows will allow heat from inside the house to escape. However, fans have to be used to actually cool the indoor space. Open windows in conjunction with ceiling fans or even just the fan from the air handling unit can allow enough air movement for air to escape from a home. This method works best on windy days as the natural air current allows air to flow through your house creating a very comfortable environment.
Turning off the air conditioning at night and just using ceiling fans and keeping the windows open will save on electricity during the summer time and should maintain your comfort level throughout the night.
All of these tips should cost nothing unless adding ceiling fans. Yet these tips could save you hundreds of dollars this summer on your utility bills.
Positive and Negative Air Pressure
One trick that firefighters often use to ventilate a structure is the manipulation of air pressure. Positive air pressure, created by blowing air into a room, helps fill a single room with fresh, outdoor air quickly.
Negative pressure, created by blowing air out of a window or door, helps ventilate the entire structure, though more slowly. With negative pressure, fresh air comes in through structural cracks and crevices, as well as through open windows and doors throughout the structure.
When trying to ventilate your home, remember that heat rises and cooler air sinks to lower levels. The fastest way to cool a home is to remove hot air that may have accumulated near the ceiling of upper-level rooms.
If you have high ceilings that rise more than five feet above the highest window, you may want to install a small ventilation fan near the top of the room to remove heat.
Supplement Natural Air Currents
Wind can be your best friend when it comes to cooling your home. Knowing which direction the wind is blowing will allow you to take advantage of wind currents in order to ventilate your home.
To use the wind to your advantage, open all windows on the windward side of your home. The windward side is the side which the wind is blowing toward. If you are also using window fans, point them in the same direction that the wind is blowing.
Tying it all Together
Now that you’re familiar with the most important ventilation concepts, let’s tie the concepts together to cool your home.
Start by opening as many windows and doors as possible. Ensure windows on the highest level of the home are completely open; heat rising from them will draw cool air into lower windows. Open interior doors to allow easy air flow.
Once windows have been opened, use window fans to assist natural airflow patterns. Use a piece of tissue paper to determine which windows have air flowing into them and which windows have air flowing out. Place fans in windows facing the same direction as the wind is blowing.
Next, sit back and enjoy your lower temperatures and cooling bills.