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6 Smart and Sustainable Ways to Escape the Summer Heat at Home
Posted By Andrew Michler On July 16, 2013 @ 11:01 am In Environment,Features,global warming,Green Resources,Innovation | 1 Comment
The heat is on as summer approaches, and many of us will be escaping it with the press of a button. Air conditioning is a big reason cities and suburbs can be built they way they way they are, but the cost of running an AC is high and the cost to the environment is even higher. To help beat the heat in a sustainable way, we've rounded up a list of 6 things you can do to stay cool and keep your electric bill low -- all the while giving your electric company an opportunity to reduce their emissions and expensive equipment. From the simple stuff like window shades, to delving a bit further in and tuning-up your house, there are plenty of proven ways to cut the AC out of your summer without sweating.
After the Fukushima  Nuclear disaster, and resulting energy crisis in Japan, the government asked workers to not wear neckties  and and other formal clothing to work. The obvious lesson here is that wearing weather-appropriate clothing  makes it a lot easier to keep comfortable inside while dialing back the AC.
The next step is to keep the heat out of your house to begin with. Covering windows with light colored blinds inside helps, especially on west windows that allow much more heat to permeate later in the afternoon. Another often overlooked heat source comes from electronics inside your house. Turning off the TV and flicking off the light switch  goes a long way in keeping the heat down. Shades and awnings on the outside  of windows are also incredibly effective ways to cool a home down, as are shade trees  and other plants – particularly when they are planted on the west and east side of a home.
Moving air, even a little, makes a big difference. Install a ceiling fan or use a portable fan  to increase air circulation and to cool your room down in a low-energy way. Opening windows for cross-ventilation is effective as well, but try to avoid doing so during the peak of a heat day. If you live in a dry climate evaporative coolers can use 1/5 the energy of a typical AC — there are even ones like the Coolarado  that don’t introduce moisture into the house.
Many regions can be hot in the day, but cool at night. An effective way to keep out the heat in these climates is to do a night air flush . A well-sealed and insulated whole house fan  is a great tool to complete this process. The fan draws in the cool evening atmosphere through open windows and flushes out the day’s hot stuffy air. Close the windows in the middle of the day and a house can stay surprisingly comfortable
If you’re ready to pull up your sleeves, then consider adding insulation  to your house and sealing the air leaks. Only after you’ve button up the home  does it make sense to look at replacing windows – a task that can be complicated and expensive. Attic fans and radiant barriers are popular, but not proven to be very effective.
If you need to run the AC you can have the unit serviced by a professional to make sure it is operating in tip-top shape. Many utility companies happily offer discounts on air conditioning and heat pump tune-ups . Leaky duct work can also eat into the efficiency, so sealing ducts could make a big difference.
If you’re on the market for a new AC, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER ) number and make sure the installer does not oversize it. Too often the ‘bigger is better’ approach leads to poorly running equipment that does not remove humidity very well.
We’d also like to know your favorite ways to effectively beat the heat so share your ideas in the comments below!
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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/6-smart-and-sustainable-ways-to-escape-the-summer-heat-at-home/
URLs in this post:
 Fukushima: http://inhabitat.com/index.php?s=Fukushima+Daiichi
 not wear neckties: http://inhabitat.com/japanese-workers-told-to-dress-casually-to-save-energy/
 clothing: http://www.ecouterre.com/climate-controlled-clothing-keeps-you-at-the-perfect-temperature/
 light switch: http://inhabitat.com/house-rejects-bulb-a-misguided-attempt-to-end-lighting-efficiency-standards/
 on the outside: http://inhabitat.com/adaptive-mudgee-mini-cabin-opens-to-the-australian-landscape/
 shade trees: http://home.howstuffworks.com/tips-for-growing-shade-trees-and-evergreens.htm
 portable fan: http://inhabitat.com/dyson-aims-to-replace-air-conditioning-with-new-bladeless-fans/
 Coolarado: http://www.coolerado.com/
 night air flush: http://srmi.biz/Tips.Low_Cost_Cooling.Cooling_with_fans.htm
 whole house fan: http://www.wholebuffalo.com/reviews/whole+house+fans
 insulation: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/green-basics/insulation-overview
 button up the home: http://inhabitat.com/5-tips-to-cut-your-electricity-bill-with-green-energy-expert-david-johnston/
 air conditioning and heat pump tune-ups: http://www.greenbuilder.com/general/articles/aas.ac.html
 SEER: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&pgw_code=CA
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