The HVAC unit is one of the home’s most energy guzzling appliances. Whether you are dreading the wallet drain associated with cooling the home over the summer, or want to reduce your home’s environmental impact, cutting the air conditioner usage is likely on your priority list. There are a few tips to help you cool your home without using a costly air conditioner.
Block out the warm sun rays. During the winter months, letting the sun shine in was a great way to add natural warmth to your home. During hot summer days; however, those sun rays need to be blocked from your home. Use heavy curtains, blinds or even reflective film coverings to shield rooms from nature’s solar heating system.
Change your cooking habits. Remember the summer kitchens from your grandparents’ era? Those helped avoid warming the main house during meal preparation in the days before air conditioning. While you may not have access to an old fashioned summer kitchen–you can still avoid the stove by using an outdoor grill, a slow cooker, a solar oven, or by planning cold meals such as sandwiches during hot days.
Turn off heat generators. Traditional incandescent light bulbs and electronic equipment tend to radiate more heat than many realize. Turn off lights, electronics and appliances when not absolutely necessary and swap out incandescent light bulbs with cooler, more energy efficient options.
Take advantage of cool night air. Be sure to let the cool air in during evening and overnight hours. The cooler the house becomes overnight, the slower it warms during the day.
Bring out the fans. Learn to use ceiling fans and strategically place box fans throughout the home to both remove warm air and circulate cooler air. There are also whole house fan systems available that are less costly and more environmentally friendly than traditional HVAC units.
Insulate, prepare and protect. From planting and encouraging natural shade trees, to caulking or replacing old windows or doors, properly insulating the home, and installing an attic fan, there are a number of ways to allow your home better cooling potential without air conditioning. The more energy efficient your home becomes, the easier it is to heat or cool.
Learn to adapt to a naturally cooled home. For many people, the human body has adapted to a lifestyle of air conditioned office environments, chilly grocery stores and artificially cooled homes. Even with the tips above, your home will not be cooled to a pleasing 70 degrees on a 95 degree August afternoon. Learning to adjust your body’s response to the higher temperatures is necessary as well. Dressing for the temperatures, staying well hydrated, and changing your personal perception of “comfort” are, for many modern Americans, learning experiences that take time and patience to achieve.
While humans survived for centuries without air conditioning, there are noted risks and concerns of heat stroke or heat exhaustion from modern environments and living arrangements. Know the signs of heat related illnesses and be sure to protect yourself and your family accordingly. especially if your family is unaccustomed to the heat.