Many Americans think of air conditioning during the hottest days of summer as a must. But air conditioners are one of the largest energy users in your house. Learning how to keep your house cool without AC can help cut your electricity use. And you may find that keeping your home cool in the summer naturally can be just as comfortable.
Below, we’ve provided some easy ideas for how to stay cool without air conditioning. With these tips, you can reduce how hard your AC works — or turn it off completely.
Keeping the heat out and the cool in is the best place to start. You’ll also want to eliminate things that create heat inside your house. There’s no single best way to keep your home cool in summer. We recommend combining two, three or all of these ideas for comfortable results.
The easiest and least expensive way to keep your house cool in the summer is to improve the insulation in your house. Seal cracks around windows and doors to keep the cool air inside. Install storm doors and storm windows to put one more layer of insulation between you and the hot sun.
And don’t forget the attic. When the summer sun beats down on your roof, it can heat up your whole house. Adding insulation in the attic can keep that heat from entering your home.
Sun shining through your windows during the hottest part of the day can raise the indoor temperature. Think of the inside of your car baking in a hot parking lot. Cover windows with blackout drapes as a way of saving energy in the summer. Get drapes that have a white or even reflective material facing the window to bounce back the sun’s rays. Windows that face south and west get the most direct sun and should be your priority when covering windows.
You can keep your house cool in summer naturally by managing windows and drapes throughout the day. When temperatures go down at night, open drapes and windows to let the cool air flow in. Shut everything back up tight when the sun rises the next morning before the heat of the day arrives.
Fans are an effective way to circulate air and keep your house cool without AC. They are especially helpful if you’re bringing cool air up from your basement and venting hot air from upper floors.
However, running a fan can be a waste of energy, if you don’t have efficient fans or you use them improperly. Explore fan types and ENERGY STAR® ratings. And don’t run fans in empty rooms. In fact, close off spaces you’re not using so you only use energy to cool certain rooms. It’s easier to keep your house cool if you’re managing less space.
Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs get so hot that they can burn your fingers. About 95% of the energy they use goes to radiating heat, not light. That’s a real waste. More than that, their heat works against the goal of keeping your home cool.
New lighting technologies are much more energy-efficient. For instance, LED bulbs are so efficient that they don’t throw off heat. You also can choose what light color you want, from cool blues to warm reds. CFL bulbs, sometimes called curly bulbs, are another option that cuts energy use.
Besides the sun, a major source of heat in your house is the oven in your kitchen. If you want to keep your house cool in the summer, reduce how often, how long and at what temperature you use your cooking appliances.
Our ancestors knew how to survive the summer with no air conditioning. Many old houses in the South had summer kitchens that kept the heat of cooking out of the main house. Cooking outside in the open air was also common. You can follow that example by firing up your grill. The more you can cook outside, the less heat you create inside.
Your bedding will influence the comfort of your sleep. Natural fibers like linen, bamboo or, cotton wick moisture from your body that cools you as it evaporates. Pick sheets with a medium thread count of 200 to 400 threads per inch for the best results. Sheets with a higher thread count won’t wick moisture as effectively. Synthetic fibers like polyester are a poor choice because they hold in heat and don’t wick away your sweat.
A traditional trick that still works is to mist your sheets lightly with lavender water before going to bed. Your sheets will feel much cooler. You will stay cool for hours as the water evaporates, and the calming lavender scent will help you relax and fall asleep.
When considering how to keep your house cool without air conditioning, both traditional and high-tech energy saving tips can help. And staying cool is even easier if you have a smart home. You can automate the opening and closing of drapes, the use of lights and when you run your air conditioner and other appliances. However you beat the heat — naturally or with the aid of modern technology — you’ll be able to reduce your electricity consumption this summer.
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