Six Steps to Keep Cool and Save Energy This Summer

With the summer months quickly approaching, homeowners are already starting to ask themselves… Should I toughen up and turn off the AC to save money this year? Fortunately, there are ways to stay cool during the dog days of summer without emptying your wallet to run the AC. Here are six simple and inexpensive tips for staying cool this summer.
1. Create better airflow
When outside air is 77 degrees or cooler, your home’s indoor temperature can be changed simply by using a window fan. Placing a fan on the downwind side of a house, facing out, with windows open throughout the house will produce a small amount of cooling.

Take this a step forward with a whole house fan, which exchanges hot, stuffy indoor air with cooler outside air throughout the entire home. Unlike whole house fans, floor or ceiling fans can make the house feel more comfortable, but won’t drop the temperature in a room. The moving air helps evaporate moisture, which creates a cooling effect. A whole house fan not only cools your home, it refreshes it by pushing out the stale, toxin-filled air inside the home.

2. Keep the house closed during the day
Once the house has been cooled off during the night with a whole house fan, close all open windows and curtains before heading off to work. Then close bedroom doors to keep the cool air trapped inside (especially if the rooms have vaulted ceilings).
3. Change cooking and cleaning habits
Save energy costs and introduce less heat by using the microwave instead of the oven. It will cook most foods in about 25% of the time as a conventional range. Better yet, fire up the grill and cook most meals outside.
If laundry and dish-washing can be postponed until off-peak night hours, energy costs will drop. Most dishwashers also have an air dry cycle, as well, which gives off less heat.
If possible, line-dry clothes outside instead of using the dryer.
Since nighttime is normally the best time to run a whole house fan, excess heat from your appliances will have less of an impact on your home’s temperature with the fan running.
4. Minimize indoor heat build-up by properly treating windows
While most of us enjoy a lot of natural light in our homes, the UV rays coming through our windows get converted to heat. Treating windows with drapes and curtains helps to keep these harmful rays out. Just by closing curtains on the windows exposed to direct or reflected sunlight, the heat sources are deflected away.
Removable films can also be used to block a portion of the incoming UV rays and minimize heat build-up. These are relatively inexpensive and can easily be peeled off when the weather cools down.
Shades, strategically placed awnings, and window replacements get progressively more expensive year after year, but the initial investment pays off in a short time by reducing air conditioning costs.
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 heat output from 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 young and even a small kiddie pool was a special treat in the sizzling summer heat. An open hydrant was heaven. Grandma’s iced tea or lemonade refreshed. Popsicles and ice cream cones cooled you off and put a smile on your face. Most people didn’t have access to air conditioning then, but survived (even thrived) in the summer heat. Try to embrace the little, cooling thrills that make summer… summer!