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10 green ways to keep your cool this summer!

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Summer is upon us, and that means lots of hot, sunny days when air conditioners work overtime and we start looking for other ways to stay cool. The following tips will help you to beat the heat, lower your power bill, and use energy efficiently as the weather turns warmer.

1. Know your climate.

Consider where you live. How warm does it usually get in the summer? Is the climate arid or humid? How much rain do you usually get during the summer months? How much light? Knowing these things will help you when you begin to plan for the summer.

2. Know your house.

Do you have one or two stories? Which sides of your home get the most light—and therefore the most heat—during the summer months? What kind of landscaping do you have? Do you have extensive acreage or a small suburban yard? What if you live in an apartment or condominium?

3. Keep cool air in and hot air out.

Just as insulation helps to keep heat in during the winter, it helps to keep hot air out during the summer. Make sure yours is in good condition. Check your home for drafts; if you can feel air blowing when the windows are shut, it means your AC is going to have to work harder to keep your home cool. Make sure your attic space is well-insulated and ventilated. If you have a fireplace, close the damper! Hot air can get into your house through a fireplace, too.

5. Treat your windows right.

Bright sunlight shining in means increased heat. Cover your windows with blinds or curtains in light colors to help keep your rooms cool. Other options include tinted window film (do not use on double-paned windows) or shading your windows from the outside with awnings or greenery. If any windows need replacing, Save Energy, Save Money, a guide by the editors of The Family Handyman magazine, suggests investing in double-paned glass with a tinted or “low-E” coating. This type of window glass is specifically designed for cooling.

5. Shade your home with landscaping

A few strategically placed trees and shrubs can help keep the sun from baking your house. According to Save Energy, Save Money, the trick is to know how your house is situated and then arrange your landscaping so greenery shades your eastern and western walls; these areas get hit with the most sunlight over the course of a day. Tall trees can keep the sun from baking the roof of your house and overheating your attic, and if you live in a climate that has cold winters, thick evergreens can be planted at the north side of your home to block the wind. The southern wall of the house should be left open, because it catches the sun without being directly in the sun’s path. Save Energy, Save Money recommends that you talk to a local nursery about what kinds of trees and other greenery to plant. Native plants are usually a good idea. You also want to be aware of possible obstacles like submerged power and fiber-optic cables and gas lines before you start digging.

6. Be smart about air conditioning.

Keep all units clean and properly serviced. Change your filters every month. If you don’t have a digital thermostat, give some thought to installing one that will let you vary the temperature of your house throughout the day. Keep it at 78 degrees Farenheit for savings on your electric bill. Make sure there are no holes or cracks around window units and whenever possible, install them in the shade. If the top of your house gets very hot, you may wish to invest in a portable AC unit that can be moved from room to room.

7. Be a fan of fans!

Ceiling fans are an excellent way to cool your home without having to run your air conditioner might and day. Many are easy to install and cost-efficient to run. Smaller, portable fans can run while your AC is on for extra coolness. In fact, one trick with a portable fan is to put it in a window at night with the blades facing outward. The rotation of the blades is supposed to suck cooler air into your house while forcing the warmer air out!

8. Keep your personal cool!

In their article for the blog Real Simple, “23 ways to beat the heat”, Adam Bluestein and Allegra Muzzillo recommend that your clothing be loose-fitting and made of lightweight fabric. You might consider choosing fabric that is especially designed to wick away sweat. Light colors help too, because they don’t absorb sunlight as much as darker colors. Wear a hat when you go out in the sun and keep your hair off your neck. Keep your feet cool by wearing sandals. Filling a plastic spray bottle with water and keeping it overnight in your fridge can proved you with a delightful burst of coolness!

9. Stay hydrated.

It goes without saying that hydration is critical, and this is especially true during the summer months. Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages with a lot of caffeine or sugar. Eating more fruits and vegetables also helps—these foods contain water and are easier on your digestion.

10. Other tricks for keeping your cool!

Other tips include skipping the drying cycle on your dishwasher and clothes dryer. Use a microwave or the cooktop of your stove instead of heating up the oven. Try hanging your clothes on a line and either air-drying your dishes or using a dishcloth. Do heavy chores early in the morning while the air is still cool. When you take a shower, turn on your bathroom fan to cut down on extra moisture in the air.

These tips, plus many others, can be found online. The Real Simple blog includes a comprehensive list of things you can do to beat the heat. Check them out and make sure your summer isn’t too hot to handle!

Sources:

The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. (2008). Save energy, save money. Pleasantville, NY: RD Publications, Inc.

Bluestein, Adam and Muzillo, Allegra. (2014, May 31) “23 Ways to Beat the Heat”. Real Simple (blog). Retrived from : http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/23-ways-to-beat-heat-10000001630362/

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