The unofficial start of summer has come and gone, and many of us have already begun to rely on our air conditioning to make indoor temperatures more comfortable. For many people, though, the annoyance of constantly walking into too-cold spaces all day, from the grocery store to the office, leaves them tired of AC by the time they arrive home. In an effort to avoid this issue, save on electric bills, and unburden your system from constantly cycling on, we’d like to offer you a two-part series of tips for keeping your home cool and comfortable without your AC.
Starting with your windows is a smart way to make indoor temperatures more comfortable. As the folks over at Family Handyman note, “roughly 30 percent of unwanted heat comes through your windows.” Slowing that heat transfer is your best line of defense against uncomfortably warm rooms. You are probably already familiar with options such as blackout curtains and cellular shades, both of which can be incredibly effective at keeping the heat out.
Low-E window films are another excellent product to protect your home from the sun’s UV rays. They are cheap and easy to apply, and contain metal or metal oxide to block rays from heating up your space.
With careful attention to how much heat is seeping in through your windows, you can prevent overuse of the AC system in your home.
In warmer weather, your kitchen and your bathroom present two troublesome spots. You have to eat, and you have to shower, and both of these (usually) require you to add heat to your indoor environment. But exhaust fans whisk hot air up and out of the room, allowing your AC system to work more efficiently when it is on, and allowing your rooms to cool down faster when it’s not. When cooking or showering, leave your exhaust fans on for the duration and for twenty minutes or so after you have finished.
If you do not already have exhaust fans in your bathroom and above your stove in the kitchen, now is the time to make the investment.
Keeping your indoor environment cool requires being opportunistic and paying attention to the small stuff. Train yourself and other family members to take little steps, day and night, to keep things cool.
Take advantage of breezy, cooler mornings and evenings to usher in cooler air, and keep it in when the sun is high and there is no breeze by making sure the windows and doors are firmly closed. Clean ceiling fans to prepare them for use in warm months by switching them to counter-clockwise rotation, and then make sure you are actually turning them on! A few additional well-placed fans can help maximize cooler temperatures and keep you comfortable when you go to sleep at night.
Ovens and stovetops add a lot of heat. Another small but effective routine hack is to try to prep and cook meals early in the day, before the hottest hours arrive. You may also find that this is a good time to explore alternatives to using your stove or oven so much, such as grilling or trying recipes which require fewer cooked ingredients.
If you are serious about decreasing your reliance upon central air or window units, consider investing in a whole-house fan. As the folks over at Green Building Advisor explain, “Whole-house fans are sometimes confused with ventilation fans that provide fresh air. Unlike a ventilation fan, a whole-house fan — an attic-mounted fan that exhausts air from a home at night — is designed to cool a house… The fan pulls air from the hallway and blows it into the attic. Since whole-house fans are relatively powerful, they quickly exhaust the hot indoor air, allowing cooler outdoor air to enter through the downstairs windows.”
This option is especially attractive if you are interested in leaving your central AC turned off entirely. In fact, it works best for homes which do not have or rely upon central AC, as it requires that you open windows so that the fan can pull in a great deal of cool but potentially humid air in the evenings, which could jeopardize your system’s ability to run efficiently when you turn it back on.
Which of these tips will you try to give your AC and your energy bill a break this summer?
NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521