How To Keep Your House Cool Without AC
Summer is a rough time for those that don't have air conditioning and it may seem difficult to keep your house cool. When outside temperature reach triple-digits, the best thing to do may be to get out of the house until it cools off. There are many green ways to cool the house, but these are the methods that have consistently worked for me.
You may be without air conditioning because you are a renter in a house without central air, live in an old house that cannot accommodate air conditioning, or you can't afford to have one installed. Whatever the reason, you should never have to sit inside your home and be miserable from the temperature. There is also the group that do have AC and are looking to lower their impact on the planet and their utility bill. Whatever your reason, follow these tips for keeping your house cool without AC.
Update 7/14/09: I just battled through a major heat wave in my area and stuck only to these methods. With some diligence opening and closing windows when needed, and keeping almost all of the lights off, my house stayed pleasant and cool inside. The most effective thing when the temperature did start to creep up was to use the fan setting on the thermostat. It did a great job of flushing the gross, hot air out of the house.
Keep Your House Cool With Breezeways
Pay a bit of attention to the direction that the wind is blowing (if it is at all) during the day. Wind patterns tend to increase over the course of the afternoon and you will be able to use this to your advantage.
Try to open windows and doors that allow the breeze to pass straight through your house. This is not a direct way to keep a house cool, but it will draw air through to prevent the stuffy, muggy feeling that can build up inside.
You can create your own breezeway with a window fan. Open windows on parallel sides of your house and place a window fan in the sill. You can point the fan to draw air in from the outside or pull the stale air out of your house. Either way works well to keep your house cool, but will be aided by the direction of the wind blowing outside.
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Keep Your House Cool With Shade
Use thick curtains to keep sunny windows shaded while the sun is on them. Make sure to keep the window closed during this time. As soon as the sun passes, open the curtains and the window to allow cool air to come in.
If you're away from your house for the day, close the curtains and the window before you leave. This will prevent much of the heat from entering.
This is the easiest green method to keep your house cool. If you can keep it from heating up during the day, it will be significantly easier to cool it later on without an air conditioner.
Fan On Setting
Use the "Fan On" Setting on Your Heater
Many central heating systems have a "Fan On" or "Fan Only" setting on the thermostat. This function allows air to pass through the heater system without the air warming up. The fan setting is great for houses that don't have ceiling fans to keep air circulating throughout your home.
Your thermostat may have the setting with a different name, but almost all central heating systems have this function. Using this will certainly use some electricity, but is a far more green practice than running an air conditioner, and a great way to keep your house cool.
Keep Your House Cool With Lighting
Regular light bulbs put off an enormous amount of heat and are one of the major expenses in your utility bill. Keeping lights off during the day will keep your house cool by eliminating the extra heat that these bulbs emanate.
If lights are needed throughout the day, switch to CFL (Compact Fluorescent) bulbs. They generate minimal heat and will save a ton of money on your utility bill. They may cost more than incandescent bulbs, but the energy savings will make up for the extra expense incurred, and keep your house cool (er).
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Eliminate the "Heat Island"
Concrete traps heat throughout the day and releases it as the evening progresses. This is the reason that nighttime temperatures in Phoenix and other desert cities have been rising over the last few decades. The cities keep growing, and the size of the "island" grows right along with it.
How do you beat the "heat island?" Spray it down! Just before the sun sets, take your hose and spray off the concrete around your house and the exterior walls to eliminate the stored heat. Before you do this, take note of how much warmer the concrete is before you spray it. It will make a dramatic difference. As soon as the water hits the concrete, evaporation begins and it sucks the heat right out of ground, and will help keep your house cool.
Whether you don't have AC or don't want to shell out your hard earned cash to the utility companies, these methods will help you achieve a cool house.
Good luck, and stay cool this summer!
Here's is a HubPage article about portable air conditioning.
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