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10 Overlooked Low-Tech Ways of Keeping Your Home Cool

Although all new homes these days are made with an efficient cooling system, we all know what it’s like to not have air conditioning. We’d like to share Treehugger’s blog detailing 10 simple ways to keep your home cool. Even if you do have AC, these tips will help keep the bills down!

10 Overlooked Low-Tech Ways of Keeping Your Home Cool
By Treehugger

1. Use Awnings



According to the Washington Post, The Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain—the amount temperature rises because of sunshine—by as much as 65 percent on windows with southern exposures and 77 percent on those with western exposures. Your furniture will last longer, too.

2. Plant a Tree



I don't own an air conditioner. The house immediately to the south does it for us, completely shading the south side of our house. What it misses, a huge ancient maple in its front yard gets, so in winter I get a lot of sun in my window, and in summer I am always in shade. A tree is as sophisticated as any electronic device around; it lets the sun through in winter and grows leaves in summer to block it.

3. Plant Vines



Frank Lloyd Wright once said "a doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines." It turns out he could have been a mechanical engineer, for it is surprising how effective vines are at keeping a house cool.
 
4. Tune your Windows


 
The windows on your home are not just holes in the wall that you open or close, they are actually part of a sophisticated ventilation machine. It is another "Oldway"—People used to take it for granted that you tune them for the best ventilation, but in this thermostat age we seem to have forgotten how. If you have double hung windows, you can open the bottom section of the upwind side of the house and the upper section of the downwind side, and the low pressure will suck the air through your house. Make the outlet openings larger than the inlet opening, it increases the draft.

5. Get a Ceiling Fan


 
Plain and simple, moving air evaporates moisture from your skin and keeps you cooler.

6. Paint Your Roof


 
In much the same way that more ice/snow reflects UV rays instead of absorbing the heat the way the oceans do (think: feedback loop that results from melting polar ice caps), cities are now giving white roofs a second look as a way to cool cities and fight climate change. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Climate Change Research Conference, advised that if buildings and road surfaces in 100 of the largest cities in the US were covered with lighter and heat-reflective surfaces the savings could be massive.

7. Install Operable Shutters or External Blinds


 
The best way to deal with unwanted solar gain is to keep it out in the first place. One can do that with properly designed overhangs or bris soleil, which keep out the sun in summer but are designed to let it in during winter. However this is not very flexible. Another option is the exterior blind, quite common in Europe or Australia but expensive and hard to find in North America, where upfront cost always loses out to operating cost.  

8. Get an Attic Fan


 
A lot of people run expensive air conditioning when it is actually pretty cool out- after the sun has been baking a California house all day it can be cool in the evening but the house is still holding a couple of hundred thousand BTUs of heat. In more temperate parts of the country, just moving the air and having good ventilation could eliminate the need for AC much of the time.

9. Don't Cook Hot Food Inside

 
 There is a reason our ancestors built summer kitchens; those stoves put out a lot of heat and you didn't want them in your house in summer. Outside summer kitchens are all the rage in the luxury house/ mcmansion set as well. It really makes no sense to run a stove inside, just to then spend money to run air conditioning to remove the heat again. So get a gas barbecue and grill your vegetables, take advantage of farmers markets to get fresh stuff, and eat lots of salad.

10. Be Smart Where You Put Your Money and Energy.


This graph from the Florida Solar Energy Center says it all. When the weatherization contractors come to get you to insulate your house, (the most expensive thing you can do to save energy) you can show them that this makes no sense, only 7% of the cooling load is coming through the walls. A couple of hours with a caulking gun to reduce infiltration would do more.
Tape up your ducts, turn off your computers and save your money. The simple, low-tech tried and true methods cost less, save more energy and work forever.

There you have it! Thanks again to Treehugger for these great tips. 

Stay cool,
Suncrest Team