Letting your air conditioning run all day—and throughout the night—can be costly, especially when temps are soaring outside. “On average, about 23 percent of the electricity used in American households goes toward air conditioning, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,” said the Press-Enterprise.
And that’s a conservative number. In areas of California where the summer heat hovers around 100 degrees (or higher), you can expect A/C costs to account for half of your electric bill.
Long-term usage of your A/C can also be harmful to the environment since the burning of fossil fuels to provide electricity to homes “in the U.S. results in an average of about 100 million tons of CO2 emissions from power plants every year,” according to National Geographic.
Whatever your reason for wanting to avoid using running the air, you don’t have to suffer. Just apply a few smart strategies for cooling your house during the summer.
Cover Those Windows
You might love being able to see out to your yard and enjoy the view during the day, but sunlight that can stream in through your windows can also raise the temperature inside.
According to Houselogic, keeping windows and drapes closed during the day “can reduce cooling costs by 30 percent” and lower the temperature inside by “up to 20 degrees,” according to Huffington Post. You can further minimize your energy loss by lining your drapes or looking for window coverings that have an insulation value from R-2 to R-4.
But Open Your Windows Strategically
Opening windows after the sun goes down and taking advantages of natural breezes—especially in rooms where there is cross-ventilation, can keep you comfortable through the night and a good part of the day, too.
Use Your Ceiling Fan Wisely
Many people turn on their ceiling fans at the first hint of summer and don’t turn them off again until Thanksgiving. But while a ceiling fan can make the room feel cooler by circulating the air, it doesn’t do any actual cooling. The only thing running the fans accomplish while you’re gone is to increase the amount of electricity you use and raise your bill.
Turn On Your Bathroom Fans
That’s not the only type of fan that can help you keep cool. The bathroom fans, as well as the exhaust fan in your kitchen “pull the hot air that rises after you cook or take a steamy shower” out of the room,” said US News.
Go On a Cooking Strike
The heat from your oven can also raise the temperature in your kitchen. Taking a break from baking and roasting can help your home stay a few degrees cooler. If you must prepare a meal, try the slow cooker or the toaster oven. And don’t forget about the microwave.
“Nothing is more energy efficient for cooking than your microwave,” said the Consumer Energy Center. “It uses two-thirds less energy than your stove” and confines the heat to inside the unit.
Let Your Appliances Work for You
The heat created by the dishwasher and washer and dryer can heat up the rooms they’re in as well. But don’t give up on your appliances altogether. Your dishwasher “uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Then let dishes air-dry to save even more,” said the Consumer Energy Center. Running it, and your washer and dryer, after dark, is your best bet for keeping cool, and will also make you a good neighbor since you’re reducing potential strain on the grid that could lead to rolling blackouts.
Get a New Bed
Trying to sleep at night without air conditioning can be a challenge, and is often the reason why homeowners whose 1920s Spanish estates weren’t built with A/C spring to have it added. New cooling technology like the one featured in TEMPUR-PEDIC beds and accessories can keep you more comfortable at night.
Huffington Post adds that a buckwheat pillow is another good investment. “Because buckwheat hulls have a naturally occurring air space between them, they won’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows, even when packed together inside a pillow case,” they said. “Or, you can put a cool-inducing Chillow under your head while you sleep.”
Make Some Outdoor Improvements
A few changes to your outdoor area can make a big difference inside. Adding a patio cover or pergola can add value to your home by creating a sheltered outdoor space. And, depending on where you place it, the cover can also help lower the temperature in your home by shielding your windows from the sun. Awnings and solar shades, which block approximately 90% of UV rays, are another good trick for cooling your home without running the air conditioning.
What other tips and tricks do you recommend for keeping your home cool during these sizzling summer months? Let us know in the comments below.