Energy bills tend to skyrocket with the arrival of warm weather, as millions of air conditioners kick into high gear all over the country. In summer, air conditioning can account for as much as 50 percent of your total energy bill. That’s a big bite, but there are plenty of ways to keep cool without A/C. Using air conditioner less saves energy and reduces your utility bills.
Run a Fan
- Fans in general, and ceiling fans in particular, are some of the most energy-efficient appliances in your house. Run a fan in front of an open window to cool off at night, and place fans where you can feel their breeze directly during the day. The breeze from a fan evaporates perspiration, which lowers your body temperature.
- For an extra chill, place a bowl of ice water in front of a running fan.
- Remember that fans don’t actually lower the temperature in your house; they just make it feel cooler, so there’s no need to run fans 24/7 in seldom-used rooms. It’s best to turn on a fan when you enter a room and turn it off when you leave, or else you’re just wasting energy.
Open Your Windows
- Keeping all your windows shut creates a greenhouse effect in your house, so open them up – especially large windows and screen sliding glass doors – to combat this. Opening windows at opposite ends of your house also helps create cross-ventilation, which makes your home feel cooler than it really is.
- Keep an eye on the temperature outside and in, and open up the windows any time the temperature outside is lower than the indoor temperature.
- Close the drapes on your windows during the hottest parts of the day, especially on south-facing windows, which receive the most sun. Light colored fabrics are best for drapes because they absorb less heat.
- Installing awnings over west- and south-facing windows helps reduce the warming effects of the sun, potentially reducing solar heat gain by as much as 77 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Plant trees. Healthy trees around your house are a long-term investment, creating shade and boosting the value of your property. Deciduous varieties are preferable to evergreens because the foliage blocks the sun in summer, and the bare branches let it through during the winter months.
Use Appliances Sparingly
- Many household appliances – especially lamps, televisions and computers – put out a surprising amount of heat, so turn them off or, better yet, unplug them when you’re not using them.
- As much as possible, hold off on using your dishwasher, oven, stove, washer and dryer until the cooler hours of morning and evening. You can also take advantage of the warmer weather by drying your clothes on a line and cooking outside on the grill, both of which save energy and help avoid introducing more heat into your house.
If you do turn on the A/C, use it sparingly and only during the hottest parts of the day. Run it for half an hour or less at a time, and set the thermostat no lower than 75 degrees.