The Green Home

Beat the heat without over air conditioning

Posted August 24, 2012

Summertime means hotter temperatures and the urge to run the air conditioner non-stop. Often families run the AC even when they’re not in the house, to keep the home cool for when they get home. Yet over-air conditioning your home not only wastes energy, it reduces the lifetime of an expensive household appliance and drives up electricity bills through the summer.

During these last couple of months of summer, try these 5 key tips that will help to ease the burden on your home's air conditioner, and compare your energy bill to the first half of summer to see the improvements.

Keep your air conditioner out of the sun

The ideal location for a central air conditioning unit is on the north side of a house. While this may not be practical in every case, the general idea of keeping the unit out of the sun can be achieved in other ways. Landscaping does more than make your yard look nice. By planting shrubs or trees around your air conditioning unit, you can help it cool your home more efficiently. The shade from this landscaping can also be used to keep the sun's direct rays off your home!

Close the curtains

Natural light can help reduce your lighting costs, however when no one is in a room it is best to keep the curtains closed during the day. This is especially true for houses with windows on the eastern and western sides. Keeping the sun's direct rays from entering the house helps reduce the amount of effort your air conditioner uses to keep the house cool. To maximize this, open the drapes, blinds, or curtains in the evening to allow heat to escape through the windows of your house.

Turn on a fan

In some climates, you can turn the air conditioner off at night and just let ceiling or floor fans provide cool air for your comfort. The energy used by a fan is far less than that of the air conditioner. Fans can also help move cool air around the house to ease the work load of the air conditioner.

Get rid of hot air

Use an exhaust fan when cooking to help expel hot air from the house. If you don't have an exhaust fan, cool the room by setting up a floor fan in the kitchen while cooking. The fan not only cools the air, but can also help move it out of the kitchen.

Use a dehumidifier

Humidity is a key factor in how we experience extreme heat. Even a small increase in air moisture can make an otherwise pleasant temperature feel unbearable. Consider installing an energy efficient dehumidifier which consumes less power than your AC unit to reduce humidity in your home. Often, this one step can cut your air conditioning usage in half. Tip: Be sure that your house has a proper air seal, particularly around windows and doors, to reduce energy consumption by your dehumidifier even further.

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About this Blog:

Bobby Ferrel, founder of Green Horizon oversees The Green Home blog. Ferrel is co-founder of Green Horizon, with offices in the Triangle and Charlotte, offering home owners and builders a one-stop shop for energy efficiency and green building. Services include home performance assessments, weatherization, closed crawl spaces, all types of insulation, HVAC and geothermal installation and maintenance. Reach Bobby directly at bferrel@greenhorizon.com or visit him online at www.greenhorizon.com