Keeping cool in the summer months should not rely solely on having a good AC. There are many ways you can keep your home and body cool without resorting to setting your AC unit temperature low. Cooling your home accounts for 20% to 50% of your energy bill, so you may want to consider the following adjustments in order to save money and electricity.
Personal cooling tips: When it’s hot, the first thing to do is make sure your body doesn’t overheat. When your body feels cooler, you won’t need to cool the space around you as much.
Cool your skin - Keeping your skin moist can stop you from turning the temperatures down. Keep a washcloth in the fridge or freezer. Use it on your forehead, feet or around your neck to keep your body from overheating.
Take cool showers - Showering in the morning after a hot night can be a refreshing start to the day, and an afternoon or evening shower can cool your body down when it needs it the most.
Ceiling fans - If you don’t already have one, this item can help keep a room 5 degrees cooler. Check that it is set to circulate in the correct direction (counter clockwise) as this cools the room significantly more. If a ceiling fan can’t be installed, consider investing in an oscillating or box fan.
Dress for the weather - Often the AC is set for such a low temperature that you end up wearing a sweater indoors. Rather than turn the AC all the way up, dress to suit the weather. Make sure your outfits are made of fabrics that breathe well. Wearing lighter and less clothing helps the air circulate around your body better. Sandals can also help your feet breathe.
Peppermint oil - A homemade remedy of peppermint essential oil mixed in distilled water can effectively cool down your body. Spritz this mix on your skin and feel the difference. Avoid spraying it near your eyes.
Indoor cooling tips: Keeping your indoors cool focuses on keeping the sun out and the cool air circulating. This might require a bit of investment in the beginning but will quickly pay off.
Increase insulation – Checking that your home is properly insulated ensures that the cool air stays indoors and can save a large amount of energy. Double-paned windows, as well as wall and attic insulation, are some of the ways to do this. You can also consider insulating walls and attics with recycled items like paper or denim from old jeans.
Close off any drafts – Keep cold air in your home by applying weather stripping, foam sealant or silicone caulking around windows, doors, and the dog or cat flap. It’s also important to insulate electric switches and outlets, crawl spaces, and attic doors. A temporary solution to insulate a room is to keep a rolled towel at the bottom of doors.
Install a solar attic fan – This appliance can decrease any trapped hot air in the attic and cool a home considerably. Installing this fan can also reduce your cooling bill by 10% annually.
Close the curtains – Keeping the curtains drawn can deflect direct sunlight. If the darkness depresses you, keep the rooms you’re not using closed. Installing a net curtain can be a helpful way to let light in while still shielding direct sunlight from entering a room.
Don’t cook with the oven – Your whole home can heat up significantly if you use the oven or stove in the afternoon. Cooking in the morning is one way to avoid overheating the home. Choose meals that don’t require much reheating. Alternatively you can use a crock pot, toaster oven (which you could possibly place outdoors) or grill outdoors.
Outdoor cooling tips: The way you decorate the exterior of your home can affect your indoor cooling energy consumption.
Solar screens – These exterior window attachments allow light into your home while reducing solar heat from penetrating, and removing indoor glare. During the winter months, you can remove them.
Awnings – Install these window shades on south or west facing windows to block the sun from shining through. Their positioning also allows the lower angled winter sun to warm the house during the colder months.
Smart plants – Crawling vines along the south and west sides of your home can help you insulate your home. You can also grow grapevines along window trellises and reap the benefits of a cooled home and fresh grapes.
Plant deciduous trees - During the summer, native deciduous trees can shade your home and in the winter, after the leaves have fallen they can act as passive solar heating.
Choose light colored paints and roof shingles – Lighter colors on the walls can deflect light and stop heat from being absorbed into the home. Lighter shades of roof shingles or even just painting your roof a light color can lessen heat absorption.
Tips for an energy-efficient-run AC: Some times of year and climates are too hot not to use an AC. For these situations consider the following tips to run your unit as energy efficiently as possible.
Regular maintenance - This is something you should do annually to make sure your unit runs efficiently. It’s wise to have this done in the fall or winter as maintenance companies will offer reduced rates when it’s not peak season.
Small evaporative cooler - This item cools the air by blowing water through wet pads. To draw the air through the home, place it near a window that is slightly cracked open and then crack open a window on the opposite side of the house. This is a great nighttime solution for cooling a house or apartment since it only works effectively up to 105˚F (40˚C).
Replace the unit if it is older than 10 years - If you have a unit older than 10 years and you run it regularly, it’s definitely worth investing in a newer model. This will feature improved and more efficient technology, enabling you to cut down your energy bill, or run the unit more than you used to for the same price.
Outdoor unit maintenance - A clean outdoor area can assist your unit in cooling. Check that no debris is blocking the outside compressor unit and make sure this area remains unobstructed. Installing a shading device over the unit outside can help too. Both these changes will increase the air circulation and make for more efficient home cooling.
Check air ducts for drafts – Reduce the loss of cool air by making sure the crawl spaces and attics don’t have any drafts. If you discover any - seal them with a foam sealant or insulate with silicone caulking.
Programmable thermostats – New model thermostats include timers and are definitely worth the investment. They enable you to set the temperature to increase after you’ve fallen asleep or raise the temperature while you’re out of the home and cool it just before you return.
Close off unused rooms – You can close air vents in rooms you don’t use often such as laundry rooms or guest bedrooms. It’s important not to close vents near thermostats as this can mess with the reading and cause the AC to run unnecessarily.
Close doors – Leaving indoor doors shut can keep cool air in a room. This is especially helpful for homes with two stories or high vaulted ceilings. Again, when doing this, it’s important to consider the placement of thermostats, to allow for accurate temperature gauging.