July 19, 2013

Keep Cool with These Energy-efficient Tips

There's no denying it - it's hot out there. The urge to crank up the air conditioning is getting harder and harder to resist, but, fortunately, there are ways to stay cool and energy efficient at the same time!

Some easy things to try first:

  • Keep your windows, doors and shades closed during the day. This will prevent some of that heat and humidity from getting into your home in the first place, making it easier to keep things cool. When your windows or doors are open, your AC usage is being canceled out by the heat and humidity being let into your home. When your shades are open, the sun’s heat comes right into your home. So instead of cranking that AC, be proactive and don't let the heat inside in the first place!
  • Turn the thermostat up a degree or two. You might not notice the difference, but your air conditioner will be working less and you’ll be saving energy.
  • Avoid cooking or baking indoors if at all possible. The heat from the stove or oven adds to the heat in your home or apartment, and no one wants that. Plus no-cook meals and snacks are usually lighter and much cooler, and will help you feel the heat less.

Once you’ve taken advantage of these quick tips, there a few more advanced tactics you can try:

  • Instead of relying on your air conditioner to do all the work, invest in some fans. A strategically placed fan (or two or three of them) can help you stay cool while keeping your energy use low. Air circulation keeps the humidity down, and the fans create a chilling effect so you can keep the thermostat a little higher without feeling the heat.
  • Shade your air conditioner if you can. When your air conditioner is cool, it will work more efficiently. Plant a tree or a bush by it to help deflect the sun’s rays.
  • Only turn on or turn down the air conditioning while you’re home. This can be done through a programmable thermostat, or some good old fashioned do-it-yourself programming. If you are going to be out for most of the day, pull the shades and turn the temperature up or the AC off. This is dependent on what kind of air conditioner you have, so find out which one you have and what method typically works best.

These tips will keep you cool through the rest of the summer, and keep your energy use low too!

- Stephanie Stoops, MassCEC Communications Fellow