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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Environmentally Friendly Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

We've grown so accustomed to air-conditioned indoor spaces in the summer that we don't give them much thought. But all that coolness comes at a price. In 2009, the average American homeowner spent $237, or about 16 percent of his or her household's electricity bill, to keep the house cool with an air conditioner.

Because electricity is generated mainly through the burning of fossil fuels, which emits CO2 into the air, the more air conditioning we use, the larger our carbon footprint. Luckily, there are many things you can do to reduce your energy use and still stay cool this summer.

Free and Easy Fixes

Keep the filters on your air conditioner clean. Dirty filters make the air conditioner work harder, thus using more electricity. If you have a choice of where to place your air conditioner, make sure it's in the shade and not blocked by shrubbery. This works for both window and whole-house air conditioners.

Keep outside heat from infiltrating during the day by closing the windows and drawing the blinds. This simple trick can keep your house surprisingly cool.

Use LED or CFL lightbulbs, which generate much less heat than incandescents, and don't use your stove-top or oven to cook -- use the microwave or barbecue instead.

Don't waste electricity by keeping your house cool when nobody's home. Use a smart thermostat or built-in timer to start cooling the house an hour before you get home -- you save money and your house is still comfortable. Also, try letting your house get just one or two degrees warmer. For every degree higher, you reduce your electricity use by 1 to 3 percent.

If You Can't Cool the House, Cool Yourself

In the days before air conditioning was common, people had all kinds of tricks to keep cool. Some of them, such as sleeping on the porch, probably don't work as well today, but others are still applicable.

  • Use window and floor fans to move air around. Sleeping with the soft current of air from a fan blowing over you may be all you need for a comfortable rest.

  • Take a quick shower in cool water. This cools your body and lasts for quite a while.

  • Place a chill pack or cold wet towel on your neck or wrists. This has the same effect as a cool shower.

  • Drink iced beverages and eat chilled fruit to cool yourself from the inside out.

Invest in Long-Lasting Solutions

If you plan to be in your home for a number of years, it makes sense to upgrade areas that help keep the house cool. These upgrades pay off in years of energy savings, and they increase the value of your home when you sell it.

  • Install ceiling fans. That gentle breeze makes you feel 3 to 8 degrees cooler, and they use much less electricity than an air conditioner.

  • Install exterior shades and awnings to block the sun from hitting your windows.

  • Reduce the amount of heat your house absorbs by painting it a light color or installing light-colored siding to reflect the heat away.

  • Upgrade the insulation and ventilation in your attic. Not only does this keep your house cooler in summer, it also keeps it warmer in winter.

  • Plant shade trees. They keep your house cool, and they're beautiful.

As you can see, it doesn't take much effort to reduce your carbon footprint and still stay cool. And for the electricity you do use, choosing 100% clean energy with Ethical Electric allows you to feel good knowing that your electricity is replenished from 100% wind and solar sources.

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