Fridays are tip days at SimpleProductivity blog.
It’s the middle of summer, and I live in the heat of the southeast United States. Days of 90 degrees and more are common, along with humidity levels near 100%. It’s a far cry from the place I was born, on the frozen tundra of the north. After several years, I have come up with ways to keep our cooling costs low:
Close the Blinds/Curtains
Keeping the heat outside means you don’t have to cool as much. Blinds and shades can block out the heat of the day. Start with keeping the blinds down or curtains drawn during the day. Mini-blinds should be angled up so that the rays of the sun do not have a direct path into the house. You can purchase special solar blinds and films to apply to windows as well that keep the heat out.
When we had the house built, we made sure the wiring was in place to put ceiling fans in every room. Our condo taught us that lesson: ceiling fans are necessary to keep the air moving and cooling costs down. We did not have the builders put the fans in the bedrooms, though, since they wanted to charge us $500 for each fan. We opted to let them install the fans in the master bedroom with its tray ceiling and in the two-story great room. After we moved in we made a trip to our local big-box hardware store and picked up fans for the remaining rooms. With the wiring already in place, it took my husband and me less than a half hour per fan and the total cost was less than $500 for six fans.
The ceiling fans in the bedrooms allow us to bump the nighttime temperature up to 80 and still feel cool enough to sleep.
Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature higher when you won’t be home and then automatically start cooling the house down so you come home to a cool place. When you keep the thermostat set at a steady temperature, your house is wasting energy maintaining a constant low temperature.
Programmable thermostats make adjustments for you. I installed one of these at our condo, and also two in our house.
Installing our programmable thermostats were easy. I just noted what color wires were connected to what on the old thermostat, and hooked up the new one following the included instructions.
The thermostats are set so that when we are at work, the temperature is at 82, lowering to our usual 78 about 30 minutes before I come home. At night the temperature goes up to 80 and comes down to 77 at about 5 a.m. (I hate getting up to a warm house!)
My husband installed one of these this past spring, and it has made a huge difference in the temperature of our upper floor…even with appropriate insulation in the attic! He did all the work from inside the attic, which meant no monkeying around on ladders. (I have an aversion to him being on ladders since a near-fatal fall he took in Jan ’08). The fan is set to run on a thermostat, and the electricity it requires is minimal. Its opening is covered with louvers which blow open when the fan is on, and shut when it turns off, keeping the weather out.
Opening and Closing Windows
During a large chunk of the hot times, our evenings cool off to below 75 degrees. Yet most of my neighbors keep their windows shut tight and their air conditioning on all night. If we notice that the evening is cool, we will open our windows and draw the cool air using cross-ventilation. In the morning, before the heat starts, we will close the windows.
Passive cooling refers to house placement and landscaping designed to cool your house. For example, planting deciduous trees on the southern and western sides of the house will keep the house in shade during the hot months, and allow the heat to hit the house during the cold months. Most of us don’t have a say in where the house is placed, but we can cool the house with appropriate landscaping.
We try to keep cool by limiting what we do in the house. For instance, I don’t run the oven on hot days, and the bread machine and crockpot, if used, are put in the garage or on the deck to do their thing. We also limit the dryer usage. Just realizing when you are putting warmth into the air can help with your cooling.
Quick Cool Showers
One of my favorite ways for an almost instant cooling is to step into a cold shower for a minute. By the time I come out, I feel remarkably cooler – even if the house cooling hasn’t changed.
What are your favorite cooling techniques?
Right after this article was finished and scheduled, my new Mother Earth News came in the mail. They had three tips on cooling, which include ceiling fans, attic fans and whole house fans. The article excerpt can be found here: Simple Ways to Cool Your Home and Save Big
Photo by elston