We hit triple digit temps this weekend! You looked like you ran a mile just walking from your car into the office. Charleston had not hit the 100 degree mark for 5 years. It seems the heat is here to stay. Other than keeping the AC at a constant hum, how else can we save energy and money? Remember, it wasn’t until 1947 that window air-conditioners were mass produced. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the you would see many homes with window unit air conditioners. It was a recent as 1970 that central air conditioning was invented as a more efficient way to cool our homes. But what did people do without air conditioning besides melt inside their homes?
I have a few tried and true thoughts on keeping our homes cool yet saving energy and money in the process. Blocking sunlight is a no brainer. Solar heat will keep the temperature in your home elevated and make your AC work double time. Close the blinds, and block out any area of your home where the sun can stream through. It will make your home darker but it will be cooler. Turn on the lights, which should have energy efficient bulbs to offset the increased usage. If you are away from your home, keep curtains and blinds closed.
Add awnings. Install them on south and west facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.
Install shutters on your windows. I love our “southern inspired” plantation shutters which look beautiful and do an efficient job of blocking the solar rays. Also, interior shutters allow you to adjust how much sunlight you want to let in your home.
Most homes have ceiling fans so make sure that they are spinning in the correct direction for pushing air down rather than sucking it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too. Many of us don’t think about powering down appliances and computers when not in use. You would be surprised how much heat generates off of them. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip. Don’t use the clothes dryer or oven during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line. Yes……a clothes line!
Trees and vines. Established homes may have mature trees and plantings that help to keep a home cooler by naturally blocking the solar rays and heat. The Charleston area is filled with new development where many trees do not exist. If there are no HOA restrictions attached to your home, take the Johnny Appleseed approach and plant trees! If you have a home that has a trellis or outdoor structure, planting vines can be aesthetically pleasing as well as offering shade. If you want vines around your home but want to prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.
Stay Calm and Keep Cool!