The vast majority of U.S. homes — 84 percent, to be exact — use air conditioners. And air conditioners can be a big expense when it comes to paying your bills. While you may be able to buy cheaper electricity by switching to an alternative retail electricity supplier, you can also reduce your electricity bills by simply using your air conditioner less often. To help, we’ve put together a list of five ways you can keep cool while using your air conditioner less often.
1. Use Windows and Shades Smartly
The way you use your windows and shades can play a big role in helping keep your home cool without using your air conditioner, or at least using it a lot less:
- Open your windows at night if it’s cooler outside than inside so that the house can cool naturally while you’re sleeping.
- In the morning, close all windows and shades on the east side of your home, but leave open the windows and shades on the west side of your home — the ones that are in the shade — to continue cooling your home for a little while longer.
- If you live in a cool climate, switch in the afternoons — open the windows and shades on the east side while closing those on the west side. Otherwise, close all windows when the outside temperature warms in order to capture the cool air already in your home.
2. Circulate Air with Ceiling and Floor Fans
Running ceiling fans can make the ambient air temperature in a room feel up to four degrees cooler; floor fans can also help a lot:
- Make sure to run ceiling fans counterclockwise so they push air down from the ceiling to cool you with a “wind chill effect” which, in turn, forces cooler air along the floor back up toward the ceiling.
- When running a floor fan, place a bucket of ice in front of it. As the warm air runs over the top of the bucket, it’s cooled by the evaporating ice. The process is just like an air conditioner, only a lot cheaper.
- If you run a floor fan in tandem with a ceiling fan, place the floor fan in a corner, with the bucket of ice, and let the cooled air blow into the center of the room, where it can be pulled to the ceiling and become part of the circular cooling effect.
3. Replace Your Hot Light Bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs get really warm and contribute to increased temperatures in your home. So, too, can energy-efficient halogen lights, which can get blisteringly hot. To help, change out your incandescent and halogen bulbs for compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which not only save energy, but operate with very little heat. In fact, LEDs are about 25 times cooler than an incandescent bulb.
4. Paint Your Roof White
It may sound silly, but painting your roof white will prevent a lot of the sun’s heat energy from radiating into your attic and down into your living space. While black and dark colors, like those of many roof shingles, are great radiators — which means they allow heat to easily pass through — light colors like white are really bad radiators, which means heat has a harder time passing through.
Painting roofs white is becoming a common option to keep heat out of homes in places like New York, California, and Hawaii. White roofs can cut air conditioning costs by as much as 20 percent and Steven Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, even says that white roofs can help with global warming by reflecting the sun’s light back into space.
5. Seal Windows and Doors and Insulate Your Attic
All these ideas for making and keeping cool air in your home without using your air conditioner won’t amount for much if the cool air escapes through cracks in doors and windows or out into your attic. But there are a few easy things you can do to effectively seal the cool air inside your home and make the rest of these tips really count:
- Perform a few simple tests to determine where your home is leaking air. Then grab some weather stripping and caulk and seal off the offending areas.
- In order to prevent cool air from escaping into your attic and warm air from radiating down into your living space, increase the insulation in your attic.
To get even more ideas for things you can do to keep your home cool without using your air conditioner, consider a home energy audit for a more thorough, professional account of how your home uses energy.
eHow website, “How to Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning.”
Yahoo! Green website, “14 Ways to Keep Cool in Your Home Without Air Conditioning.”
Huffpost Green website, “8 Ways To Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning.”
“White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters,” The New York Times, July 29, 2009.