Shade or a fan?
With the warm days of summer around the corner (or already here at our home base in Los Angeles) we've been wondering about the best ways you've found to keep cool. What are the options for making it through summer without sweltering, but without wasting energy? Have you found ways to keep your home cool without air conditioning? If you do use an air conditioner, what are the strategies you can use to minimize your energy use? What are creative ways to keep your home cool? And tell us about how cool you are underneath your new green roof! Here are some ideas on how to stay cool and green this summer:
Whether your grandmother believes in global warming or not, she can’t deny, it’s hot out here! Have you ever seen a house cat pant? I have and while it’s super cute, it’s sort of sad too. With parts of Southern California hitting triple digits this week, we were more than a little excited to come up with some solutions to this simple but sweaty problem:
How do you stay cool in the heat of summer and still keep energy, money and your carbon footprint from swelling out of control?
Fans are for more than just rock stars
It’s an obvious solution, but sometimes under-rated. Fans use much less energy than air conditioners, create less pollution and unless you’re playing solitaire, you can put that blast of air right on you. Ceiling fans are particularly effective, as they help move the hot air hovering close to the ceiling, creating greater circulation. For an extra cool option, keep a spray bottle of water handy so you can spritz yourself at intervals, adding a little zing to your indoor wind.
Dark is the new black
By keeping the blinds drawn, you can at least keep the light of day from adding to the heat inside your home. Another idea is to tape reflective paper to the windows, which works like those foil reflectors that people sometimes put in the front window of their cars. Reflect the light, reflect the heat and keep it cooler inside.
Open at night, closed in the day
The coolest part of the day is the middle of the night. So when the sun goes down, turn on those fans to circulate the warm air and open the windows to allow cool night air in. In the morning, close the windows and draw the blinds, keeping the cool air in and the hot air out, for as long as possible.
A quick, cool shower
Now we don’t want to use too much water but if it’s a quick rinse, with a particular focus on getting your head wet, it’s highly effective. Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap is another nifty addition. Lather up for a cool, (non-toxic!) menthol sensation that leaves a lasting cool and refreshing bouquet. You’ll love the way you feel and your housemates will love the way you smell!
• A washcloth soaked in cold water, laid across the back of your neck.
• Turn off the hot stuff – oven, stove, computer, lights, dryer – anything not currently in use
• Take your clothes off – always a winner!
• Wear damp clothes and sit on plastic furniture
• Eat and drink cool things – water, organic fruits and veggies, frozen treats (fruit juice popsicles, soy ice cream, or frozen fruit slices)
• Sit outside and enjoy your neighbors – like in the olden days!
If you have an air conditioner…
I would like you to invite me over. When I’m not there, of course, try to use it as sparingly as possible. Window units need to have the filter replaced monthly during the hotter months and cleaned regularly. Also be sure your window unit is the appropriate size for your home: too small and it won’t cool efficiently and too big means wasted energy. Also make sure that it fits snugly in the window space, eliminating air pockets around the edges. If you have central air, set your thermostat to no lower than 72 and again, only use it when I’m there or if you absolutely have to.