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Keeping Cool the Green (and Frugal) Way This Summer

By Jocelyn Anne
June 1, 2011
File under: Energy Efficiency


With summer just around the corner, we’re faced with the inevitable dilemma of keeping ourselves “sane” by maintaining a home that’s cool and humidity-free, without suffering the consequences of running a central air system 24 hours a day and facing an energy bill that’s gone through the roof.  So, how do we do it? Can we even cut costs?  Absolutely.  It’s actually much more tolerable to be hot than it is to be cold, so if you’re willing, you can find easy ways to not only avoid increased heating bills, but to see them go down.

Become a Tourist

You know all those museums and libraries you’ve always thought you should visit but never got ambitious enough to do so?  Summer is the perfect time to go.  You’ll get out of your own house and get to bask in the refreshing coolness of air-conditioned buildings, all for free!  Plus, you might even learn something while you’re at it.

Shop When It’s Hot

Those pesky, time-consuming errands? Do them during the peak hours of the day. Get your grocery shopping done between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is directly overhead and the temps are climbing to their highest.

Catch a Flick

Find a local dollar movie theatre and watch old movies during the afternoon hours. It’s another great place without sun or heat and best of all, it’s almost free. Finish off the afternoon with fruitsicles in the park.

Find the Water

If you’re near an ocean, then you should spend as much time at the beach as possible! (Make sure to track down the ones that don’t require paid parking.) Otherwise, head out to a river or lake (both free!). And, if none of those are options, see if you can get a summer pool pass for the family and plan to spend your hot afternoons staying cool and getting exercise in the water while you’re at it! Many cities also have parks with small kiddie pools free for your use.

Minimize Appliance Use

Appliances (even light bulbs) produce tremendous amounts of heat. Replace traditional light bulbs for fluorescent; they put out much less heat. Cooking is an obvious heat source, so grill outdoors when you can.  It’s one of the healthiest ways to cook anyway. Eat cool style foods like salads and sandwiches for your main meals more often. Another good idea: seal off both your laundry room and hot water closet. You’ll minimize the amount of heat being created within the home and make a dramatic impact without much effort at all.

Downsize Your Cooling

When you must be home — it happens, we must eat and sleep — and the temperatures are unbearable, aim for the most cost efficient sorts of cooling. A central air system is about the worst in terms of cost and energy used. Not only does it come with an installation bill, it takes a great deal of energy to keep an entire house cool. Opt for evaporative swamp coolers if you can. You’ll be able to cool air by as much as 20 degrees and use up to 75% less energy than a traditional AC. If that doesn’t cut it and you need some de-humidifying to survive, then go for a portable AC. You can move them from room to room as needed and just spend time in that room. It doesn’t make sense to cool the whole house when you’re going to be in your bedroom for the next 8 hours. Plus, both the latter options don’t require installation costs.

Freelance writer Jocelyn Anne is currently writing about portable air conditioning units and helping consumers find the most appropriate and affordable ways to stay cool and safe this summer.

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