5 Easy Ways to Beat the Heat, Reduce Your Cooling Costs
In honor of the fact that the temperature in Maine has been hanging just under 100 degrees over the last few days (you read that right: in Maine, in May), we thought we'd remind our loyal readers that YES, you can stay cool all summer long, and run the air conditioner less, by making a few simple adjustments to your home.
Fact is, your home is full of hidden heat sources (we've said it before, we'll say it again): things that, though their primary purpose isn't to make you and your family hot and miserable, go ahead and do just that. The good news is this: you can make them stop. And it's so easy. Here's how:
Air that's moving feels about 8 degrees cooler than air that's standing still (it's that good old wind-chill effect that's so much fun when you're shoveling your driveway). Something as simple as a ceiling fan, or even a bathroom ventilation fan, running continuously, will make you feel much better. Exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom will also exhaust hot air from the shower and the stove before it has a chance to spread around the house, AND will improve your home's overall air quality. Smart move.
2) Upgrade your lighting.
CFLs aren't just for the environment anymore. As an infrared scan during an energy audit at the Energy Circle house about a year back pointed out, incandescent lights act like mini space heaters in your house. In the EC house, the incandescent light clocked in at 327 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 167 for a CFL and 107 for an LED.
3) Insulate your water pipes and water heater.
Sound like small potatoes? Maybe (nope), but small potatoes are easy to fry. The hot water pipes that run from your water heater to your faucets and shower heads are probably made of either metal or plastic, neither of which are good insulators at all, which means that a good bunch of the "hot" in the water is being released into the air before it reaches its destination. That makes your house more uncomfortable, and it also costs you money, because you pay twice: to heat the water more than you need to in the first place (if you insulated your pipes and your water heater, you could turn the water heater down), and to run the air conditioner to get rid of that excess heat. Silly. Pipe insulation and water heater blankets are both cheap and wicked easy to install.
4) Close your window shades during the day.
Before you head off for work in the morning, just take a minute to close the shades in the house. Old school style. My grandmother did it, my friends don't. My grandmother is much smarter than my friends.
If you can't stand the heat, get the heck out the kitchen... and cook on the deck! Come to think of it, maybe grab some horseshoes and have a little fun while you're at it. It's summer!