Summers are just more comfortable with air conditioning. But running your air conditioning on full blast all summer long can drive up your utility bill, not to mention pollution when power plants are forced to burn more fossil fuels. For those of us that have ecology in mind, there’s the option of installing renewable power or buying energy from renewable sources. The solution to reducing higher energy bills and helping the environment is to use less air conditioning. You can do this by drinking more water when you’re outside to stay hydrated and taking steps to lower the temperature before you turn the AC on.
High Heat & Humidity
Going without air conditioning means considering the overall heat and humidity. Sweating is the body’s way of cooling off as the droplets on your skin turn from liquid to gas. The evaporation will pull the warmth away from your body, cool the blood under your skin and return to your body’s core and reduce the overall temperature. Moisture in the air will stall this process. When humidity levels are high, it’s harder for sweat to evaporate. When your body can’t cool off, everything feels hotter. The movement of dry air is the best way to stay cool.
House Design for Hot Humid Climate
We all know that hot air rises and the best way to cool a room off is to pull heat up and out. Proper ventilation will also help control humidity, making you feel less sticky. New home construction has adapted to this problem and older homes have design features that can be used. Homes that are one room wide and extend back can utilize cross breezes with open windows and screen doors to make the home feel more comfortable. You can also make these breezes feel even better when you use electric fans. Homes with wraparound porches can keep temperatures low too. A wraparound porch will absorb direct sunlight, keeping the inner rooms cooler. Some homes have cooling features built in that may be blocked. One of these features is a cupola, that were originally designed to provide hot air an escape route from the home. When central air is installed in older homes, these may have been turned into attics. Clearing these blocked spaces can provide better air circulation.
Block Sunlight Heat from Windows
The sunlight adds a lot of warmth to your home. This can be avoided with blackout curtains or shades. You can still let light into the room by opening the curtains or shades on the windows that don’t directly face the sun. You will also need to consider the color of the curtains that face the sun. Heat will radiate as infrared light. Colors like red, orange and yellow are “hot” and will deflect the most warmth. To avoid felling like a vampire, you can install solar screens or have your windows tinted instead. Another way to block some sunlight is with houseplants. Houseplants like aloe, cacti, succulents, bromeliads along with any other plants that don’t need a lot of water will get water from the air. When they are grown near windows, they will sponge up humidity and block some of the sunlight. Just make sure to ask your local garden center to get the best plants for the job.