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7 Sustainable Ways to Keep You House Cool this Summer

A cheerful reminder that it is summer.  Photograph by zharth on Flickr

Summer is a great season—beachesvacations, BBQs on your patios…  But as we enter the dog-days of summer, you home may feel more like a sauna than a refuge.  If you have air conditioning, your utility bills are skyrocketing.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are a few easy ways to keep your cool this summer:

1. Fans are your Friends.

Neither ceiling nor portable fans use much energy to power, but both offer great air circulation. They can make the temperature in the room feel up to seven degrees cooler and are much more efficient than air conditioning, In large rooms, ceiling fans work best, as they blow air downwards—just make sure they are rotating counterclockwise to circulate the cooler air. In bedrooms and small areas, portable fans do a good job.  For added cooling, place a frozen bottle of water in front of a table fan. Be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.

2. Savvy Shades

The best way to keep your home cool is to keep the heat out. Consider installing solar screens or reflective window film to the outside of your windows, especially ones that get direct sunlight throughout the day. Solar screens can prevent up to eighty percent of solar heat from entering your home through the windows. Alternatively, be sure to keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day.

3. Get Greenery

Consider planting trees on the side of your house that gets the most sun. Leafy deciduous trees will shade your home and keep things considerably cooler in the summer. Come winter, the trees will loose their leaves and let sunlight through when it’s needed.

4. Power Down

Unless you absolutely need them, turn off incandescent lights and heat-generating appliances. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs; they produce the same light but use a fifth the energy and heat.  Turn off your computer when you’re not using it. Also avoid the summer reruns and turn the TV off—it generates a lot of heat. Some plug-in power adapters also give off heat, so unplug you cell phone charger when you’re not using it..

5. Eat Out(side)

Your oven really heats up your kitchen.  Use your barbecue instead!  When cooking inside,  rice cookers, crock pots, and pressure cookers are great ways to heat up food without heating up your house too much.  If you must use your stove or oven turn on your  hood fan to vent the hot air outside.

6. Keep Dry

Humidity makes room air feel warmer. Minimize mid-day laundry, showering, and cleaning. When you must do these things, be sure to turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air.

7.  Let the Evening Air In

As the temperature falls in the evening, open some windows. This will let the evening air come through and cool the house. Maximize the impact by using table fans to create a cross breeze. Just be sure to close them before the temperature starts to rise again!

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