Summer is a wonderful time to slow down, bond with the family, rekindle past hobbies, and spend plenty of time outdoors to just soak up the sun. But, such activities demand a comfortable home environment. Keeping your home cool during the summer months can be very expensive, but a little effort will go a long way.
Here are a few practical and creative ideas to take a load off your air conditioner and still stay cool this summer:
1. Plant Vines and Trees
Vines and trees not only add a vertical touch to your landscape, they also give your home an immediate cooling effect. Climbers and creepers, such as ivy, bougainvillea, and Russian vine, act as natural shading from the sun and cool your home in a process called evapotranspiration. And, if that’s not enough to convince you, those twining leaves and perfectly spaced flowers add an extra layer of privacy and charm, as well. Trees can likewise boost your home’s curb appeal.
2. Get an Attic Fan
We all know that heat rises, and having good ventilation in your attic can eliminate the need to turn your AC on for hours. Having an attic fan comes in handy in humid subtropical regions, such as Missouri. Attic fans are 10-15% more energy efficient than a central air conditioning system. Just make sure your attic vents or windows are open while the fan is running.
3. Cook Outside
Summer is a great time for fun-filled backyard cookouts and pool parties. And guess what? Cooking outside can help cut your cooling costs, too. Indoor cooking tends to use up a lot of energy and cause heat to remain inside your home, prompting your AC to work even harder. It’s also a chance to give your oven a break and to allow your kitchen to breathe. So, get yourself a grill and take the cooking outside whenever possible.
4. Replace Your Bulbs with LEDs
If you’re still lighting your home with incandescent bulbs, consider giving your fixtures an upgrade. LEDs and CFLs are big energy savers and don’t generate much heat compared to incandescent bulbs. They are a little more expensive than ordinary bulbs, but they last much longer. Choose white to yellow tones, or preferably those that are dimmable or offer convenient features, such as motion and daylight sensors.
5. Insulate Your Windows
Unprotected windows are a major source of solar heat gain. Get the most out of your current windows by adding extra layers of protection and insulation. Replacing old weatherstipping is a cost-effective, all-season trick to save energy and enjoy a better quality of indoor air. Cover windows you rarely open with clear plastic to prevent cool air from escaping from the room. Solar shades, low-emissivity window films, or awnings make great home additions, as well, as they prevent direct sunlight and glare from affecting your home’s indoor environment.
6. Mount a Programmable Thermostat
While it’s nice to relish the cool air after a long day out in the sun, you should always keep the temperature in check. Thermostat setbacks are where the energy savings come from, and raking in more energy savings rests on how well you program the device. Also, when buying a programmable thermostat, make sure it’s compatible with your home’s heating and cooling equipment.
7. Build a Green Roof
A green roof doesn’t always include vegetation and complicated systems. It’s an umbrella term for roofing techniques that improve a building’s thermal performance. As your home’s first line of defense, your roof should be reflecting sunlight instead of absorbing heat. Paint your shingles with bright-colored, high-reflectance paint, or replace them with Energy Star-rated metal roofs.
8. Do Your Chores at Night
Appliance gains make up a huge chunk of a home’s cooling load, even greater than heat gains coming from the windows and attic ducts. Logic follows that the more appliances you have, the more energy you use. The lingering presence of heat coming from ovens, refrigerators, clothes dryers, electric devices, and other modified appliances can thwart your efforts to keep cool. It’s advisable to do household chores that involve the use of these appliances at night, where the air outside is cooler.
9. Sleep with the Windows Open
If the air quality outside is favorable and you don’t have allergies, try opening your windows at night to let the cool air flow inside and replace the warm air. Breathing air-conditioned air for prolonged periods can cause certain discomforts, such as dry nasal and throat passages, among other things. Let your room and lungs breathe better for a night or two if the warm air is still manageable. Sleeping with the windows open can benefit your overall wellbeing, as it promotes better sleep and reduces dehydration.
10. Add Energy-efficient Insulation
Updating your home’s insulation is a low-cost and long-term solution for year-round comfort and reduced energy bills. Insulating your home can significantly increase your home’s thermal performance. Plus, it eliminates the need to crank up the AC because a properly insulated home doesn’t take long to cool. To know how much insulation you should get and which areas you should insulate, have a reputable contractor, such as A+ Insulation, perform a free evaluation.
These are just some of the many energy payback projects you can do before the summer heat sets in. With these tried and true methods, you won’t need to break the bank or pull off a major green-oriented home remodel. Identifying the various cooling loads in your home and understanding the physics behind air movement are not easy tasks, but they are useful in reaching your energy-saving goals. So, roll up your sleeves and try these DIY fixes to keep your cooling costs down every summer.