Summer is just around the corner which means that most of us will seal up our homes and crank the AC.  Not this year! Below are 10 ideas on how to keep your home cool and comfortable without flipping that AC switch on.

But first, some not so fun facts about air conditioners:

  • Air conditioners can use up to 1/6th of the nation’s electricity.
  • During the hottest summer days air conditioners consume 43% of theUSpeak power load.
  • The US Department of Energy states that heating and cooling systems emit over half a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year into the atmosphere
  • Air conditioners also generate approximately 24% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide, a key ingredient in acid rain

 

  1. The cheapest and easiest way to see some savings this summer and year round would be to caulk and weather strip windows and doors. All the supplies you need will cost approximately as much as a fast food lunch.
  1. Light colored drapes and blinds help keep unwanted heat out of the house, and could give your interiors a little face lift.   Two-layered drapes are the best for keeping the interior temperature comfortable year round.  When installing blinds, the closer to the window they are the more effective they are.
  1. Install heat reflecting film on south & west facing windows.  This nifty little trick will not only keep heat out but it will cut down on ultraviolet rays that damage furniture and floors.  This film has a slight tint, but will not block views.  It typically reflects up to 72% of the sun’s heat & 99% on the UV rays.  Home Depot sells 3’x15’ rolls for just under $40, & it can save some households 50% on their summer energy bills!
  1. For year round comfort and affordability invest in a programmable thermostat.  Programming the thermostat back 10 to 15% for 8 hours a day will save about 10% of a households heating and cooling costs annually. 
  1. Keep air flowing by using ceiling fans, portable fans, or the “fan only” setting on your thermostat.  Your body perceives moving air 4 to 9 degrees cooler than still air. Plus the savings are staggering; using fans during the warm season costs 30% less than running your air conditioner. 
  1. Most heat absorption is through the roof.  To reflect 97% of this heat install a foil radiant barrier on the underside of the roof rafters, but make sure to leave an air space between the roof and the foil.  Its easy to install & will decrease your energy use significantly.  Home Depot sells 300 square feet of recycled, all natural foil for $150.
  1. Another easy way to keep heat out of your home is through insulating the attic floor.  Fiberglass insulation, at least R-30, is easy to install.  A roll costs around $15, and the savings of insulating your attic will be year round.
  1. Are you tired of that ruddy old paint job?  If you are planning on updating the façade of your home this summer make sure to use light-colored surfaces on the exteriors.  Dark-colored exteriors absorb 70% to 90% of radiant energy from the sun.
  1. During hot summer days there is almost nothing more satisfying than lying in the grass cooled by the shade of a nice big tree.   Don’t you think our homes deserve that too?  The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that just three trees properly placed around the house can save the average household between $100 & $250 in energy costs annually.  To be most effective trees need to be located on the south and west sides of your home.  Deciduous trees are the best because during the winter they allow light & heat in.
  1. If you are like me and have an itty-bitty amount of green space around your home, or want a little more instant gratification than watching a tree grow over decades, vines make a nice alternative.  Trellises should be placed on the hottest side of the house and stand at least 6” from the wall to create a buffer of cool air.