With energy costs climbing annually, keeping your house cool in summer can be a wallet-emptying exercise. Finding natural ways to keep cool can save you hundreds of dollars in a single season.
- Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house where you receive the most sunlight. Their leaves will provide cooling shade in the summer, and, when they shed in the winter, allow the sun to help warm your home. According to the USDA Forest Service, trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 to 50 percent of the energy used for heating.
- Use trees or shrubs to shade your air conditioning unit, windows or the sides of the house receiving direct sunlight.
- Open your windows at night when it’s coolest and shut them during the day to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
- Place a fan at the open basement door to bring cool basement air onto your main living level. Likewise, ceiling fans set to blow down provide exceptional cooling. Oscillating fans will also mimic tropical breezes, and, combined with some Hawaiian music and a cool fruit drink help remind you of why you waited all winter for summer heat.
- Install white (reflective) window shades, blinds, or curtains and keep them closed during the days to keep the heat out.
- Check out the latest green “air cooler,” such as mini eco-ice coolers and ice air coolers. They use up to 75 percent less energy than air conditioners and can cool up to 150 square feet.
- Realize that up to 60 percent of the heat entering your home comes through the ceiling and walls. If your attic insulation isn’t up to snuff, upgrade it. Moving from three inches of insulation to 12 inches can cut cooling costs by 10 percent.
- Finally, check into the feasibility of outdoor awnings over windows, and window tinting such as 3M Scotchtint™ which reflects up to 79 percent of the heat that would come through windows. Strategic investments today can pay for themselves in months and make summer much more enjoyable. Also, any upgrades you make to lower cooling costs will be beneficial when listing your home.