Sunday, July 18, 2010

Keeping Cool By Being Green

The Washington, DC-area is experiencing one of the hottest summers in history, as is much of the east coast. Chris & I just recently installed a room air conditioner in our bedroom. Our home has central air conditioning but as we live in a 3-story shoebox, we found our electric bills to be far too high for a house that was still uncomfortably warm. The central a/c was wonderful at keeping the basement cool, only so-so on the main floor, and did nothing for our bedroom upstairs. We are rarely home except in the evenings, so a single room a/c for our bedroom is not only far more energy efficient but also a lot easier on the pocketbook.

Since then, I've found a few other ways of keeping cool by reducing indoor air temperature. Even simple things, like turning off lights when you leave a room and keeping windows and blinds closed, can dramatically reduce the amount of heat generated inside your home. Here are a few other simple solutions to beat the heat:

  • Turn up the thermostat as high as possible during the hours when no one's home, or turn off the a/c altogether. Better yet, invest in a programmable thermostat.

  • Run heat-generating appliances in the early morning, late evening, or when you're not home (this includes clothes dryers and dishwashers). Better yet, line dry your clothes if you can.

  • Use ceiling and floor fans to circulate the air. Fans use far less electricity than air conditioners and the cooling breezes they generate will allow you to run the a/c at a higher temperature.

  • Install working window shutters, put up awnings, or plant a tree to shade your windows from the sun.

  • Try "tuning" your double-hung windows to suck the hot air out and bring cooler air in.

These are just a few suggestions for chillin' in the summer heat. Check out these additional resources for simple, low-cost ways to stay cool while being green:

How to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

Hot Time in the City? Keep Cool in Your Home

Low-Tech Air Conditioning Guide

Low-Tech Tips: Tune Your Windows