When the weather heats up, most people assume that an air conditioner is the only quick-fix solution. However, relying on this energy-hogging appliance means you have to spend more on your electricity bill.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, air conditioning accounts for 17% of the total household electricity expenditures at the national level and up to 27% in the hot-humid regions.
To avoid the high cooling cost and be more environmentally friendly at the same time, follow these simple tips and tricks to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature despite the sweltering heat of the summer.
Block out the sun.
To maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without relying on AC units, you need to block out the sun from windows where around 48% of heat gain occurs.
- Window films can provide up to 98% heat reduction compared to unprotected glass windows (another bonus is that it is relatively cheap and you can install it yourself).
- Awnings can reduce heat gain by up to 77%.
- A tree or a tall shrub planted to the south side of your home can block out most of the sun.
- Window shutters will not just provide storm protection and security but also shading and ventilation during the summer months.
- Triple-weave curtains, also called dim-out curtains, are effective in blocking out the sun.
Avoid using heat-generating appliances during the day.
As much as possible, use dryer, washer, oven, and other appliances that generate a lot of heat only at night when the outside temperature starts to drop.
Another good alternative is to skip the dryer entirely and instead dry your clothes under the sun.
Consider outdoor cooking.
Using ovens, cooktops, and electric ranges can make your home hotter and more uncomfortable during summer. Hence, you may want to consider using outdoor grills or resort to meals that can be made in a slow-cooker.
Install a “living insulator.”
Installing trellis (where the vines can grow) to the wall that receives most of the sunlight can reduce heat gain by up to 50%. Opt for vines such as Russian vine, honeysuckles, ivy, bougainvillea, clematis, and morning glory which are all great for blocking out the sun.
Get a ceiling fan.
A fan keeps you cool by moving air, which in turn evaporates moisture from your skin. Also, its electricity expenditure is only about a fraction of AC units, allowing you to enjoy huge savings.
And even if you have AC, it remains ideal to have a ceiling fan. When you set your air conditioner at its lowest settings and keep your fan running, your AC doesn’t consume too much energy just to keep your house cool.
Keep your attic cool.
When you keep your attic cool, your home will be noticeably cooler. To do this, install attic fans and electric ventilators. Another good alternative is to use vents (e.g., gable and soffit) which are openings in the roof that allow warm air to escape.
Consider repainting your roof.
Light paint can keep your home a lot cooler by deflecting more heat. By contrast, a dark roof can absorb more heat, resulting in uncomfortable indoor temperatures.
Open the windows at night.
To facilitate cross-ventilation and let in the cool air, open the windows at night and close them the next day when the sun starts to heat up the air.
To recreate the natural breeze, open the windows where the direction of the wind is coming from and the opposite doors or windows as well. (Just make sure the awnings or shrubs sufficiently shade them or their position receives no or little sun.)
You can also install a window fan where the breeze is coming from to generate more airflow. You may also want to place a bowl of ice in front of a fan to mimic the cold breeze.