It’s summer time and that means it’s hot out there and it will get hotter. Your instinct says crank up the AC but there are other ways to help keep you cool without racking up your electric bill. So let’s get started on using your DIY skills.
Keep your blinds closed
Seems like a simple tip, but up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows. So keep them closed.
Create a natural wind tunnel
Opening your windows for a cross-breeze might seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a bit more strategy to it.
“Hot air rises—so if you have a two-story house, you can create a natural draft by opening downstairs windows on the shady side of the house, and upstairs windows on the hot side of the house,” says Myria Allen, professor of sustainability communication at the University of Arkansas. “Or if there is any natural breeze, open downstairs windows on the side of the house the wind is hitting, and upstairs windows on the side of the house away from the wind. This will pull hot air out of your home.”
Roll up area rugs
Walking around on naked floors will actually make you feel cooler at home, so remove carpets where possible during heat waves.
Throw some serious shade
The U.S. Department of Energy has found planting trees or shrubs to shade your air conditioner reduces air temperatures directly under trees as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the AC units to work more efficiently to conserve energy and reduce energy bills by as much as 10%.
However, remember that placement is everything. Make sure to leave 2 to 3 feet of open space all around the unit so as not to obstruct the airflow or impede access for repairs. Also space trees far enough from your home so that once they mature, the root systems will not damage the foundation or the branches damage the roof.
“Keep in mind that shade trees planted on the south and west help cool homes, but those planted on the north and east increase your utility bills,” says Allen. Also, while it may take a long time to grow a big shade tree, in a single season you can grow annual vines on trellises to shade walls or even roofs, which can reduce an unshaded home’s summer air-conditioning costs by 15% to 50%.
Hack your fan
You might have seen this trick on Pinterest and it’s amazing. Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust us: it’s magic.