Top 10 Eco-Ways to Keep Cool While the Planet Heats Up
Do you love summer but hate the heat? Me, too, especially when it’s combined with the high humidity we have where I live in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Here’s how I keep cool when 100+degree heat waves roll through town:
1) Use an air conditioner AND fans. A fan doesn’t affect the temperature of a room. It just creates a “wind chill” effect by moving air around. An air conditioner will actually lower the temperature of a room and remove humidity, too. We cool the house to around 78 or 80 degrees (down from the high nineties or low hundreds!), then circulate the cooled air with small room fans. We only use fans in the rooms we’re actually occupying to save energy.
2) Set our thermostat as high as comfortably possible. For us, that means somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees F. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and around 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
• Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings.
3) Cover sunny windows. Our sunniest windows are shaded by porch overhangs that prevent the hot sun from streaming into our house and heating things up. We have double-paned blinds we can pull if the sun gets too intense. In previous years, we planted several deciduous trees in front of the house. Now their shade also helps us keep our home cool in the summer.
4) Keep windows and doors closed. Once we’ve cooled the air, we try not to leave outside doors open too long when we’re going in and out. We use a back door to enter and exit because it lets in less heat than the front door.
5) Use oven only in early morning. If I need to bake anything, I try to do it before 9 a.m. Otherwise, I cook on my stove top, in the microwave and toaster oven, or on an outdoor grill.
6) Cook several meals at one time, then reheat as needed. This not only saves energy, but reduces the amount of time I spend cooking overall.
7) Make “sun” tea. I drink a lot of iced tea in the summer. Rather than boil water in a kettle on the stove, I either use an electric kettle to boil water in less than a minute, or just put a pitcher of water outside with a few tea bags in it. After a few hours, the heat from the sun will raise the water temperature enough to steep the tea.
8) Eat cold food. Summer is the perfect time for salads, smoothies, sandwiches, raw vegetables, cold soups, and of course, ice cream. If you eat as much ice cream as we do, you might want to make your own. You can get popsicle molds that are either stainless steel or BPA-free plastic.
9) Take shorter showers in cool water. Any of these timers will help you keep your shower under five minutes.
10) Take off some clothes. You know how, in winter, you put on a sweater to stay warm? In summer, we all walk around our house barefoot and in loose, sleeveless dresses or tank tops and shorts. It's surprising how much cooler we stay when we're lightly dressed.
Want more energy-saving tips? Find them right here.