August is upon us, and much of the country still swelters. While they may name these the dog days of summer after the star Sirius, growing exhausted from constant heat can leave you panting.
If you’re trying to live more sustainably, no doubt running the AC constantly disturbs you due to the high energy cost. Are there any ways to cool down your house without increasing your carbon footprint? Absolutely! Read on to discover six eco-friendly ways to cool down any room in your home without spending a ton or polluting the planet.
1. Use Blackout Curtains
I tried this trick last year and was delighted to save at least 20% on my summer cooling costs. Blackout curtains serve multiple purposes. One, they block exterior light, which protects your furnishings from the damaging rays of the sun. They also reduce outside noise, so if you live in an urban area, they can help you catch more ZZZs.
Blackout curtains cost little, even if you’re a renter. A set large enough to fit a standard sliding glass door, including the rod, costs around $50 at most major department stores.
2. Use Light-Colored Paint
Your elementary school art teacher was right — light colors reflect heat, turning it away from your home, while dark ones absorb it like a sponge. Painting the exterior of your home white can keep the interior cooler.
Don’t throw up your hands in despair if you rent, though. Many landlords appreciate minor improvements like paint, and will cover costs or give you a break on rent if you do it yourself. No ladder or tools to tackle an exterior paint job? Painting interior walls lighter colors gives you the illusion of feeling cooler. That’s one reason homes in the desert Southwest often feature interior paint in three shades only: white, eggshell and ecru.
3. Inspect Your Vents
Did you know blocked or clogged vents can play a significant role in hindering airflow throughout your house? If one room seems warmer than others, check to see if the vent is open. If it is, inspect around it — does it appear clean, or is debris covering it?
For maximum energy efficiency, change your air filters monthly. If you have a heating-only system, you can change them less often in the summertime, but keep up the maintenance if you have pets or smokers in the home. Get your air ducts cleaned every three to five years.
4. Install Ceiling Fans Everywhere
Circulating air makes a huge difference in how you perceive heat — a still room feels considerably warmer than one with a breeze blowing through. Ceiling fans install relatively easily to nearly any overhead light fixture, and they can save you a fortune in both heating and cooling costs.
During the summer months, change the direction of your fan blades to blow air down. Doing so creates a windchill effect through your room, instantly making you feel several degrees cooler. In the wintertime, reverse the blade direction so air blows up from the ceiling. If your vents are on the floor, this draws heat to the ceiling, keeping you warmer.
5. Buy a Toaster Oven
During the winter, running the oven can help reduce your heating bill, but in the summer, it warms the inside of your house and makes your air conditioner do double duty. Instead, invest in a quality countertop toaster oven. These use less energy overall and won’t heat your entire home while you whip up a homemade pizza for dinner.
6. Invest in Bamboo Pillows and Sheets
Bamboo is a remarkable, sustainable material. It grows quickly and requires few resources to do so. Plus, fabric made from bamboo naturally wicks sweat and heat away from your body’s surface, keeping you cooler when you sleep.
If you’re one of those who has to sleep under the covers no matter what time of year, shop for quality bamboo sheets, a comforter and pillows. Organic bamboo is also hypoallergenic and antibacterial, so if you or your family members have allergies, this investment can reduce stuffiness and snoring — a bonus!
Keeping Cool the Sustainable Way
You don’t have to spend a fortune on heating and air conditioning to stay comfortable as summer drags on. By following the tips above, you can keep your cool while reducing your carbon footprint.
AUTHOR: KACEY BRADLEY
Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Guides for Brides, Hotel Online and more!