Do you have an energy efficient home? Keeping your home or office cool during the hot summer days can be quite a challenge in New England. One day it could be 72 degrees with oppressive humidity, the next day could be dry in the mid-90s and even then, the next day could be something completely different. Because of the often mercurial Massachusetts weather, it can be difficult making decisions when it comes to cooling your home, but air conditioning seems to be the most popular choice. Unfortunately, it is also probably the most inefficient choice in terms of energy usage and cost. Here are a few suggestions to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient in the summer without resorting to the artificial (and often noisy) cooling of an AC.
1. Block Out the Sun: One way to keep your home cooler in the heat is to prevent the hot sun’s rays from getting in in the first place. While there is often focus on keeping the sun out from the interior, the exterior is really where the focus needs to be. Consider planting bushes or other shrubbery in front of windows to reduce some of the rays from getting inside. Planting deciduous trees is a great solution, too. (This allows for solar heat GAIN in the winter when want the sun’s warmth in your home.) When doing so, consider where on the house the sun shines the most; this is where you should plant the trees. Installing awnings also work wonders in keeping some of that unwanted heat out, and there are some attractive options out there.
2. Window Coverings: Although blocking the sun from the exterior is the ideal way to prevent the home from getting too hot, blocking sun from the interior will help to keep your home energy efficient and cooler in the summer months as well. Light drapes, insulated cellular blinds, and shades all reduce the impact of the hot sun inside the home, making it feel cooler and more comfortable. On that note, it may seem counter intuitive, but during the peak heat times, keep the windows closed. Opening them can actually bring more heat into the house.
3. Attic Insulation and ventilation: In previous Masters Touch blogs, we have talked about the importance of insulation when it comes to an energy efficient home. This same idea comes into play when keeping your home comfortable on warm days. Adequate attic insulation keeps cool air from escaping and keeps hot air from getting inside. A powered attic exhaust fan can also make a huge difference, since the heat energy from an extremely hot attic radiates down into the house, even with sufficient insulation.
4. Unplug: If you have incandescent lights in your home (which you should think about changing to something more efficient that generates less heat, but I digress), they are an additional source of heat in the home. Keep lights off as much as possible to keep room temperatures down. Obviously, prevent using the oven as much as possible, as that will of course increase the temperatures in the house as well. Finally, plugged-in electronics give off residual heat. Consider unplugging to keep cool, and as a bonus, reduce energy use!
Aside from air conditioning, how do you keep cool indoors in the hot summer months? Leave a comment below!