Summers are hard on your electric bill and even harder on the environment – but letting your home reach high temperatures can also be dangerous. So what’s an eco-conscious consumer to do? Though air conditioners are the standard way to achieve a cooler home, they’re hardly the only way. Embracing these five sustainable strategies can help you stay comfortable without driving up your electric bill.
Cover Your Windows
Improperly insulated windows are a serious threat to your energy bills, both because they let out heat during the winter months and cause cool air to dissipate in the summer. Nip this issue in the bud by installing thermal curtains or other heavy, light-colored shades over your windows. These curtains will keep cool air inside and afternoon sun out so that you don’t need to run the air conditioner as much. If you don’t have thermal curtains, you can also use blackout curtains or interior shutters for the same purpose.
Try A Smart Thermostat
Investing in new technology isn’t usually the most eco-friendly thing you can do, but there are always exceptions to the rule – in this case, a smart thermostat. So why should you buy one? For a relatively low price, smart thermostats can cut your energy bill by 15% by tracking your behavioral patterns. The thermostat can tell when someone is in the room or when the house is empty, and adjust the temperature appropriately. It’s a smart, affordable way to be sure your air conditioner isn’t running on high when no one is home, and once the thermostat learns your normal schedule, it will begin cooling the house shortly before you arrive home during the week.
Focus On Your Space
Staying cool during peak summer heat isn’t only about air temperature; it’s also about making sure you’re making smart behavioral choices. For example, you wouldn’t wear long pants during the summer or work in the garden at noon, yet most people don’t change their bedding to correspond with the seasons.
If you want to sleep better on hot nights, choose light cotton sheets and blankets, rather than those made from synthetic materials, which tend to trap heat. The same also goes for your mattress cover; most people use a standard synthetic cover to protect the mattress, but that will retain heat during the summer. Switching to a cotton mattress cover will keep things clean without making your hotter.
Use Your Ceiling Fan
Many people use their fans in conjunction with air conditioners during the summer, and alone during late spring, but typically you don’t need both. On its own, a ceiling fan can cool a room by 4 degrees, especially if you make sure it’s turning counterclockwise. Direction matters because when the fan turns counterclockwise, it pushes air down and makes the space cooler. When it turns clockwise, on the other hand, ceiling fans can circulate hot air, so check your setting carefully.
Vent It Out
Cooking indoors is one of the worst things you can do during the summer because you’re heating up a confined space – that’s why so many people grill or eat a lot of salad during the summer months. If you do need to use your stove on a hot day, make sure to turn on the overhead hood to vent the space. The same applies to your bathroom; when you shower, make sure to use the dehumidifier to clear steam from the room. These small changes can make a big difference in the temperature across your entire home.
You may be hesitant to turn down the air conditioner and test alternative cooling strategies during peak summer heat, but you really can live without it. Instead, cover the windows and turn on your fans. You’ll quickly get used to this new normal, and it will all be worth it when the next electric bill arrives.
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