Summers in Boulder County can prompt many home owners to crank up the air conditioning as soon as the temperature outside starts to creep up above the 80’s.
While air conditioning is a great luxury on hot summer days, it’s also expensive. Running the A/C will add a couple of hundred bucks to your utility bills by the end of the summer.
Plus, all the energy it takes to run you’re A/C has to come from somewhere. Chances are, it’s coming from a non-sustainable, pollution-generating power plant.
If your home doesn’t have an air conditioner, you might find yourself plugging in house fans in every room of your house just to get some relief from the heat. This can cause your energy bill to spike during the summer months, too, without really cooling down the temperature inside your house.
There are natural ways to help keep your house cool during the dog days of summer that can help you save money and energy, like utilizing some clever fan tricks and upgrading your lightbulbs.
Here are 9 ways to lower the temps inside your home without a traditional air conditioner.
1. Make Fans Your Friend
This is an easy one. If you have ceiling fans, make sure you set the direction to rotate counterclockwise to help with the summer heat.
Fan blades are angled, so a fan will only push air if it is set to rotate in the counterclockwise direction. The other direction is for pulling air up. In the summer, you want to push air down into the rooms to create airflow, so set your fans to rotate counterclockwise.
For the rooms in your house without a ceiling fan, this is where an oscillating standing fan can come in handy. On the hottest days, fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it directly in front of and just below the fan. The cold air coming off the ice water will get blown around the room, offering the refreshing burst of cool air you need.
2. Open the Right Windows at The Right Time
You may have heard that you should always keep your windows closed throughout the summer to keep the heat out. But without air conditioning, air flow is essential to keep the inside of your home as cool as possible.
Here in Colorado, summer nights are usually significantly cooler compared to the day time heat. Take advantage of the cool night air and open your windows overnight to let cool air in. By mid-morning you should close some (but not all) of your windows.
To decide which windows to keep open, find out which side of your house is typically exposed to wind, and leave the windows on that side open wide. Leave a couple of windows on the opposite side of your house open just an inch or two.
This will help create a pressure system — the air blowing in will displace the air inside, which will have to flow out more quickly through the smaller spaces, resulting in a cooling effect.
3. Insulate Against the Heat
Just like the cold air of winter can seep into your home through cracks around your doors and windows, hot air can sneak its way into your home through the same cracks during the summer months.
Insulate your door frames with weather stripping and re-caulk the edges of your doors and windows to keep the heat out. And make sure your outward-facing doors have effective sweeps on the bottom to help insulate your home from heat in the summer and cold in the winter. This is an easy and effective way to lower your utility bills year-round.
4. Cook Outside
Summer evenings are beautiful here in Colorado. You can enjoy spending time outdoors and keep your house cooler at the same time by cooking outside.
Using your oven and stove heats up the inside of your house significantly. Using a grill or smoker and eating outside will both keep your house cooler and lower your energy bill.
5. Use Bathroom Fans
Bathroom ventilation fans are designed to suck air out of the bathroom. When you take a hot shower, you’re adding hot, steamy air to your house.
Running the bathroom fan will help remove that air. You can also run your bathroom fan when you’re not taking a shower to create additional airflow throughout your home.
6. Replace Your Lightbulbs
Compared to LED lights, incandescent lightbulbs waste energy and let off a lot of heat.
Update your bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or LEDs, which run much cooler and are more energy-efficient. You’ll save on the electricity used to keep the lights on and you’ll keep your house cooler!
7. Get a Swamp Cooler
A swamp cooler is an evaporative cooling system with many benefits over a traditional air conditioner. They aren’t so effective in more humid climates, but here in Colorado they work wonders.
A swamp cooler only needs electricity to run a fan and a water pump, which uses much less energy than the compression system in a normal A/C unit. In fact, you can run a swamp cooler for 1/8th of the cost of traditional air conditioning.
Here in Colorado, you can likely get a subsidy from the power company, which will save you hundreds on the unit itself. With a subsidy, you can buy a swamp cooler window unit for under $200.
A swamp cooler isn’t as effective at cooling as an air conditioner, but it will save money, energy, and help provide some relief on the hottest, driest summer days.
8. Add Strategic Shade
Keeping sunshine out of your house is key to keeping your home cooler on hot summer days. The easiest way to do this is with blackout curtains.
In the morning, when the day starts to warm up, close your curtains to block the sunlight. At night, when the temperatures outside start to drop, you can open your curtains and windows.
To step up your sun-blocking game, install awnings outside of your house where the most light comes in. Planting trees in strategic positions around your property to help block sunlight from filtering into your windows is another good way to keep the sun at bay.
9. Lighten Your Roof
Wearing a black shirt on a sunny day is sure to make you warmer than if you wear a white one. Dark colors absorb light, while light colors reflect light.
In the same way, dark roofing will absorb the sun’s light and heat, making your house heat up faster. The next time you’re looking at re-doing your roof, consider lighter roofing options that will reflect light and keep the heat out.
Conserving More Than Just Energy
There are many ways to “go green” around your house to both save on utilities and save energy — especially when it comes to water usage.
You water usage can get out of hand when you try to keep your lawn in perfect condition during our hot, dry summers. But it’s possible to have the best of both worlds: saving water and maintaining a healthy lawn.