When I got into my car today the thermostat read 100 degrees. Add humidity to that (which we have plenty of) and we have ourselves a heat wave. We aren’t alone; much of the country is experiencing the same heat and humidity. And rumor has it there’s more to come.
It wasn’t too long ago that many of us were dreaming of hot summer days. I couldn’t wait to set all those nasty winter germs free through open doors and windows. Well summer has decided to come in like gangbusters.
The summer presents its own set of challenges when it comes to green living. In order to live sustainably during the summer months we have to continue to conserve energy and reduce our consumption without having a negative impact on the earth. Part of living eco-friendly includes keeping cool sustainably.
Here are a few tips to help you continue to be green during the hot summer months.
- Keep the shades down. As an eco-friendly way to keep the light out and prevent your room from heating up try keeping your shades down. We have room darkening shades in our bedrooms that we leave down during the day when we’re not around. The rooms stay nice and cool.
- Avoid using the oven. The heat produced by the oven makes the it harder to cool the house. Try a toaster oven or outdoor grilling to keep the heat out.
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs) inside. CFLs use 75% less energy and produce 75% less heat than incandescent light bulbs. LEDs last for years and use only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/2rd to 1/30th of incandescent or CFL bulbs). LEDs don’t cause heat buildup, which will ultimately cut down on the cost of cooling your home.
- Use a fan or two.
- Fans use much less electricity than an air conditioner. A fan won’t heat or cool a room, but will improve air circulation, which can greatly improve the comfort of your living space. A ceiling fan is a great way to move the air around-if used with an air conditioner for cooling the air it will help you keep your thermostat at a reasonable setting.
- Make sure your ceiling fan is rotating in the correct direction. During the summer you want to feel the air blowing directly on you. Stand under the fan and turn it on high and see if you feel a strong breeze. If not switch the fans direction and try again. Whichever mode you feel the most amount of air blowing on you is the correct mode for summer.
- Another option to cool off the entire house is to install a whole-house fan.
- Remember- to conserve energy turn off the fan if you’re not in the room.
- Shed some clothing. Bare those legs and arms- wear shorts, skirts and short sleeves. Light colors reflect heat; dark colors absorb heat–find some lightweight fabrics in light colors to stay cooler.
- Plant trees. The simple act of planting a tree will provide shade and conserve energy. Shade from trees reduces air conditioning needs and makes non-air conditioned homes more comfortable.
- Raise your thermostat a few degrees.
- If you are one of the fortunate that has air conditioning- try raising your thermostat a few degrees. Nighttime is a great time to give this a try. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to go up a few degrees in the middle of the night. This will allow you to fall asleep and wake up in the cool air. Any chance you have to use less air conditioning will make a big difference-it will lower your energy bill and it will help reduce our nationwide energy consumption.
- Humidity makes room air feel warmer, so reduce indoor humidity. Turn on the exhaust fan in your bathroom during and after taking a hot shower. Minimize mid-day washing and drying clothes, showering, and cooking.
- If the area you live in cools off in the evening, open windows and doors with screens to bring the inside temperature down.
What are some other ideas to keep cool in the summer and save some energy?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from docentjoyce/Flickr]