This summer is a hot one! And staying cool in the summer isn’t just a matter of cranking up the AC. You want to be comfortable without wasting electricity or harming the environment.
The cost for your comfort should never impact the environment in an absurdly negative way, so ensure that you’re doing your part to stay green. Keep reading to pick up a few ways to beat the heat and protect the earth in the process.
1. Take Advantage of Windows
Knowing how to use your windows is a great way to keep the house cool. First off, make sure your curtains help to control temperature. Insulating curtains will help your house’s temperature in both summer and winter, by keeping hot air out in the summer and keeping it in during the coldness of winter.
You can also open your windows to create a cross breeze through the house–open the top of one window, and then across the room or downstairs, open the bottom of another. Don’t open them very much, and do it in the morning while the air is still cool from the night, before you turn on your air conditioner.
If you’ve got a window-unit AC, know that air conditioners with a higher EER rating will be more energy-efficient, so consider replacing yours for a better model. Make sure any cracks or crevices around the AC unit are sealed, too, so the cold air doesn’t escape.
2. Insulate Your House
Proper insulation, especially if your house or apartment is old, will do wonders for keeping the cool air inside. The most important aspect of proper insulation is making sure air isn’t escaping around your windows and doors. This is a very common culprit for bad heating in the winter and bad cooling in the summer. If you feel the need to explore this option more, contact a skilled contractor in your area to begin the process.
If you have an attic, it could be one of the biggest culprits that are draining your home of its energy efficiency. Attics can reach uncomfortable temperatures, so focusing energy on insulating and cooling the attic will benefit the entire house.
3. Cool Your Body
When thinking of energy-efficient ways to cool down the home in the summer, people often forget about cooling down their own bodies. So if you’re sitting in the living room feeling a little too hot, instead of cranking up the AC, try a few tricks to cool yourself down first.
Eat and Drink Cold Things
Maybe it seems obvious, but a glass of ice water will do wonders to cool down your insides, especially if you remember to drink a lot of water throughout the day. If you have kids, try giving them sugar-free popsicles. Go for foods you would normally serve chilled, like fruit, smoothies, or frozen yogurt, as long as they don’t have a lot of sugar. But stay away from an ice cold beer or a cup of iced coffee–while they ay sound refreshing, alcohol and caffeine will dehydrate you, which won’t help you stay cool.
Chill Your Skin
Run cold water over your wrists, right at your pulse point, every so often throughout the day. Or, put a cold towel across your forehead and take it easy for a few minutes. A water bottle full of ice or ice water behind the knees and at the ankles will also cool you down, and is a good trick to try if you’re hot at night in bed.
Leave the House
Feel like nothing’s working? It might be time to visit the freezer aisle in the grocery store or an indoor pool. Take advantage of someone else’s cranked up AC for a while, and combine it with running errands or a fun family activity to distract everyone from the heat.
4. Plant Trees
Your landscaping can help (or hurt) your fight to stay cool in the summer. If there isn’t a lot of natural shade around your house, you’re letting a lot of direct sunlight beat at your windows and roof during the hottest times of the day. Trees, especially planted on the southern and western sides of your house, will provide a great deal of natural shade. As a bonus, the trees are also good for the environment, offsetting some of the carbon emissions running your AC will produce.
5. Use Hot Appliances Sparingly
Multiple appliances in your home will add heat to the internal temperature. While you can’t always avoid using these items, using them less frequently, or at specific times of the day, will help you maintain a cooler temperature in the house without using up electricity. If you need to use any of these appliances, use them at night or in the early morning when the temperature outside is cooler, so your air conditioner doesn’t have to fight as hard against the heat they produce.
Let your dishes air dry inside your dishwasher if your dishwasher has a dry cycle, and avoid opening the door right after you’ve run it. When you open the door right away, hot air comes spilling out into your kitchen.
Unplug your computer, television, and any other entertainment items when you’re not using them. Computers, televisions, cable boxes, and the like all generate heat while they’re plugged in, which you’ve probably noticed if you’ve sat with your laptop on your lap for any period of time. Unplugging them also has the added bonus of reducing electricity costs by a tiny amount, since plugged in appliances, even if they’re off, still use up a small quantity of electricity.
If you can, avoid using the oven and the stove. Both generate a lot of heat, so use the microwave and the toaster oven if you can. Or, better, cook outside.
Not only are hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners not very energy-efficient, they also generate a lot of heat. If you can avoid using these items altogether, do it, and find a wash-and-wear hairstyle to make your life more convenient in the summer. If not, try to style your hair in the early morning or at night, and try not to keep them plugged in at the highest heat setting for very long.
Stay cool and stay environmentally friendly this summer by following these suggestions. You’ll stay cool, save on your electric bill, and know you’re helping out the environment in the process.