It has been an extremely hot summer this year in Greenville, South Carolina – – the temperatures have stayed in the 90s for most of the summer going over 100 some days. I do not enjoy the heat and try to keep it as cold in my house as possible; however, that means running my air conditioner almost non-stop. In fact, our air conditioning unit actually “froze-up” the other night because it had been running non-stop. Unfortunately, that night I had to do without air conditioning – – my husband said the utility company would probably be calling to see what was wrong with their best customer (he loves the heat and is such a pain during the summer). My husband did start me thinking about how damaging my summer habits are to the environment (running the air conditioner, a ceiling fan and two floor fans at night does use a lot of energy). I began to feel guilty; therefore, I did what I do best – – I researched ways to reduce energy use and stay cool during hot summers. I discovered several green ways to keep my home cooler during summer months while being eco-friendly too.
1. Ceiling fans – My ceiling fan was actually a good way to stay cool while saving money and energy. A ceiling fan can make it feel about six degrees cooler in a room; therefore, I can raise my thermostat so I do not use the air conditioner as much.
2. Check for leaks around doors and windows – Keeping the cool air locked inside your home is essential to saving energy and keeping cool during the summer. Use caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows to seal cracks and holes to prevent warm air from entering and cold air from seeping out. Furthermore, adding insulation around air ducts will also help keep your home cool and save energy.
3. Plant a tree – Actually, plant several trees to help save energy and cool your home. Use trees to shade your home on the south and west as well as to shade large areas of concrete and other reflective surfaces. By shading your home, you can naturally reduce the temperature in your home by several degrees without using any energy at all.
4. Change filters regularly – One problem that caused my air conditioner unit to freeze up was that my husband had not changed the air filter. Dirty air filters cause units to run harder and longer thereby using more energy. During hot summer months when your unit is running more, check filters more often and replace as necessary.
5. Insulating window treatments – Replace your window treatments with curtains or blinds that are specifically designed to keep out heat. By using window treatments that block bright sun and heat, you will use less energy to cool your home.
6. Install a programmable thermostat – Energy Star advises installing and using a programmable thermostat to save about $180 per year in energy costs. I like using ours because I can program it to cool down my home before I get home without using energy throughout the day to keep it cold when no one is at home.
7. Install and use an attic fan – My parents had an attic fan in our home when I was growing up because we did not have air conditioning. Using an attic fan will keep your home cooler by getting rid of warm air. Eco-friendly solar attic fans are no available to cool homes without wasting energy.