Homeowners facing ever-increasing energy costs this summer are already asking themselves: Should I tough it out and suffer through unbearable heat or turn on my air conditioner and add forty percent or more to my electric bill?
Fortunately, according to Tamarack’s CEO Tom Colasanto the answer is: “Neither if you adopt a half dozen relatively inexpensive tips to keep cool.”
While admitting that there will be times throughout the summer when air will need to be ‘conditioned,’ Colasanto believes that most homeowners aren’t aware of the many simple options available to them to ‘beat the heat.’
According to Colasanto, “A home’s temperature should be between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to keep most people comfortable. To achieve that range you should:
- Create airflow – simply move air around or, push warm inside air out while bringing cooler outside air in;
- Change your cooking, laundry and dishwashing habits;
- Make windows work for you instead of against you;
- Keep the house closed tight during the day;
- Switch to energy efficient light bulbs, turning them and other heat sources off when not needed;
- Ease yourself into appreciating higher temperatures.
“These half dozen tips need further explanation. I’ve asked my technical team here at Tamarack to elaborate,” Colasanto added.
1.Stimulate airflow. Floor or ceiling fans will make you more comfortable but won’t drop the temperature in a room. The moving air helps evaporate moisture from your skin and takes some heat with it thus creating a cooling effect. When the outside air is 77 degrees or cooler, real temperature change can occur using a window fan properly located. Placing a fan on the downwind side of your home, facing out, with windows open throughout the house will produce a small amount of cooling. However, an even better solution -- a whole house fan -- exchanges indoor hot air with cooler outside air throughout your entire home. An added bonus: Your home will be refreshed as some of the toxins in the air will be pushed out along with the hot air.
2. Change your cooking and cleaning habits.
Save energy costs – and introduce less heat – by using your microwave instead of your stove. It will cook most foods in about 25% of the time.
Even better, move your cooking outside.
If you can postpone laundry and dishwashing until off-peak night hours you’ll save energy costs while you’re moving hot air out with your whole house fan. Most dishwashers have an air dry cycle which gives off less heat. Use that and also dry clothes on an outside line instead of your dryer if possible.
3. Treated properly, windows can minimize indoor heat build-up.
You likely already have one solution to keep out visible light and UV rays that get converted to heat when they enter your home: Existing drapes and/or curtains. Just by closing them on the windows exposed to direct or reflected sunlight during the day, you’ll deflect heat sources away.
There are other low-tech, relatively inexpensive solutions as well. Removable films that block a portion of light and UV rays will minimize heat build-up and can be easily peeled off when the weather turns cold. Window shades that block direct rays, strategically placed awnings, and window replacements get progressively more expensive but often make up the initial cash outlay in a short time by reducing air conditioning energy costs.
4. Keep the house closed during the day.
You’ve cooled the house off during the night with your whole house fan and are leaving for work. Close the open windows, the drapes and curtains. Close bedroom doors to keep the cool air trapped inside, especially if they have vaulted ceilings.
5. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off other heat-producing appliances
Switching to Energy Star-approved lighting instead of incandescent light bulbs can reduce heat from lighting sources by up to 90%. As a bonus, many electric companies will pay at least a portion of the switch. Although the heat output of computers is relatively low, it still adds to the overall heat build-up in the house. When not in use, power down.
6. Enjoy the heat!
Think back to when you were a kid. Even a small kiddie pool was a treat.
An open hydrant was heaven. Grandma’s iced tea or lemonade refreshed.
Popsicles or ice cream cones were treats that cooled you off and put a smile on your face. Most people didn’t have access to air conditioning then but survived and even thrived in the summer heat. These activities worked then and they still work today. Enjoy the summer. Outside. Or inside.