You can keep yourself and your house cool this summer and be kind to the environment at the same time. Here’s how.
For many people, summer means BBQs, beach cricket, and dips in the pool.
But there are days when that harsh summer sun isn’t quite so fun and cranking up the air-con at home seems like your only option.
We’ve all been there – those times when you just want to turn your house into a freezer and forget about the energy bill next quarter. But it’s important to remember that high energy use associated with cooling houses in summer contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Check out these 10 tips that will keep you and your house cool, save you money, and help you be kind to the earth:
1. Close your blinds
Keep your blinds closed, especially on north and west-facing windows, to significantly cool your home. Better yet, invest in some block-out curtains to shield your home from that harsh summer sun.
2. Block the heat
Stopping heat getting into your house in the first place means spending less on cooling. Shade windows and walls using external coverings, like blinds, awnings or large potted plants. Plant deciduous trees that cast shade over your home in summer, but still let the sun shine through in winter. If you can, invest in window tinting and top up your ceiling insulation – it’ll help keep the warmth in in winter, too.
3. Just 1 degree more
If you must use your air-conditioner, set the thermostat to between 74-76, or as high as you feel comfortable with. Increasing your thermostat by just 1 degree in warm weather can reduce the running cost of your appliance by about 10 percent.
If you’re looking to upgrade your air-conditioner, pick one with a high energy-star rating and do your research to ensure you choose the right type of air-conditioner for your home.
4. Adjust ceiling fans
Sometimes you might feel like ceiling fans just push the hot air around your home rather than cool it down. Well, you’re not wrong – fans that aren’t rotating counter-clockwise may be doing just that!
Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise in summer to push air straight down helping to create a cooling effect and clockwise in winter to pull cool air up. In warmer weather, set the fan speed to high and in cooler weather, it works best on low. Ceiling fans can also be used to complement other cooling types, so checking they rotate in the correct direction can make a world of difference to the temperature of your home.
5. Close doors and seal gaps
Close doors to rooms you aren’t using to keep cool air where you need it most. Seal gaps around doors and windows, and use draught excluders to ensure the cool air can’t escape.
Note: evaporative air-conditioners will be more effective if you open some doors and windows to increase airflow through the home.
6. Hang out in the evening
Closing your windows and staying inside may be a great idea during the day, but when it gets cooler in the evening you may want to open your house up to cool your home naturally – just make sure you lock up overnight!
Cooking dinner in the backyard or at the park may be a cooler alternative to being in a steamy kitchen too, so make the most of a cool breeze when you can.
7. Chill out, not chill on
Sip icy-cold drinks, apply a damp cloth to your neck and other pressure points on your body, or have a cold shower to cool your body without needing to switch the air-conditioner on.
8. Hack a fan
No air-con? No worries! A cleverly-positioned bowl of ice is all you need to turn a fan into a cold mist machine. Place a shallow bowl or pan of ice in front of a fan for an icy-cool breeze that won’t break the bank.
9. Choose cotton
Cotton fabrics are super breathable and help cool your body. Wear light, loose clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton, and fit your bed with cotton sheets.
10. Change your lightbulbs
If you’re having trouble cooling your home and can’t work out why, incandescent lightbulbs might be to blame. These lightbulbs were phased out in Australia years ago, but many homes still use them. They produce a lot of heat, so switching to energy-saving bulbs can help cool your home and save heaps on energy costs – that’s a win-win!
Tips for Identifying a Reliable, Professional AC Repair Company
1. Respectful Providers Offer Reliable, Quality Service
“Find out if they were affordable, timely, neat, and professional. Make sure that their technicians were cordial, neat, respectful, and did quality work.”
2. Safety Should Be Their Top Priority
“You have to consider carbon monoxide, leaky gas, and other issues that might potentially put your family at risk. Professionals … are properly trained to look after such threats and deal with it when it happens.” – Five Good Reasons To Hire A Professional HVAC Company, Eagle Air; Twitter: @EagleAirHCS
3. Steer Clear of Repairmen Without a License
“Hiring an unlicensed, inexperienced company or doing it yourself will impact the quality of your repair and has the potential of creating a dangerous situation for everyone in your home.” – The Importance of Hiring a Licensed HVAC Technician, Heritage Mountain Heating and Cooling; Twitter: @HeritageMT
4. Ask About Energy Star Products
“ENERGY STAR-qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.” – 10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor, Energy Star; Twitter: @ENERGYSTAR
5. Search for a quality repair company before you need repairs.
6. Ensure that they are bonded.
“A contract license surety bond is needed as a precaution against unfair dealings as well as a kind of financial insurance in case something with the agreement goes wrong.” – Svetlana Guineva, 6 Tips on Choosing a HVAC Contractor, Buildings.com; Twitter: @BuildingsMedia
7. Try an online search of review websites.
“These sites are handy because they provide information about the personal experiences of people who have hired the particular technician before, so you know that the information is accurate.” – Erin Doman, 12 Tips for Hiring the Best Air Conditioning Technician, Compact Appliance; Twitter, @CA_appliance