Guide to Green Living

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tips to More Efficient Home Cooling

Avoid heat build-up in your home – The best way to keep your home cool is to keep the heat out. This can be done by closing the drapes on windows facing the sun (east-facing windows in the morning and west-facing windows in the afternoon). You should also try to avoid heat-generating activities, such as cooking, on hot days or during the hottest part of the day. If you are cooking, use your range fan to vent the hot air out of your house. By reducing the amount of heat in your home, you will have to use less energy to cool it.

Use ventilation and circulation to cool your home – Instead of automatically turning on the air conditioner on hot days, try cooling your home with window and ceiling fans. Circulating air can make your home feel cool and comfortable in a much more efficient way than air conditioning. There is also the option of a whole house fan (a large ventilating fan installed in you attic that expels hot air out of your home) which can circulate air throughout your entire home.

Keep air conditioning efficient and to a minimum – When you do have to use air conditioning, there are ways to make it more efficient. First of all, turn up the temperature setting on your air conditioner by a couple of degrees. Most people keep the temperature setting lower than it needs to be, hence using more energy than is needed to keep your home cool. It is recommended that you keep the temperature at about 25° C (77° F). Also, remember to turn off your air conditioner once your home has reached a comfortable temperature. By coupling minimum air conditioning with reducing the amount of heat entering your home, you can keep it cool without using excess energy. It isn’t recommended that you leave your air conditioner on when you leave your house, but if you’re going to do so, turn the temperature setting up a few more degrees while you’re gone to about 28° C (82° F). Also, remember to turn off your air conditioner if you’re going to be away from your home for more than a day. It is also important to make sure your cooling vents aren’t blocked so that the energy being used is going towards actually cooling your home and not being wasted. Furthermore, keep rooms that don't need cooling, such as closets, closed off when you're air conditioning.

Make sure your home isn’t losing cool air – By weather-stripping and caulking around windows, doors and electrical outlets on outer walls, you can prevent losing cool air from your home and prevent hot air from getting in. Improve your home’s insulation on outer walls, again to keep cool air in, and hot air out. You should also consider installing storm doors for the same reasons if your home doesn’t already have them. If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed. These provide an extra barrier against the escape of cool air. All of these options will make cooling your home more efficient and will save you money on your energy bill.

Select energy efficient cooling systems – If you’re in the market for a new cooling system, there are many new technologies that are much more efficient than older versions. As with other appliances, you should look for the Energy Star logo and compare the amount of electricity each uses.

Use the coolest parts of your home On hot days, parts of your house will naturally stay cooler than others. For example, if you have a basement it will remain cool even during the hottest part of the day (this is because the cool air in your home will sink down to your basement). One way you can reduce the amount of energy used to cool your home is to do more in cooler areas of your home. This way, you won't have to use energy to stay cool.

Have any tips of your own? Add them in the comments!


  • Turning off air conditioning may waste energy by making your refrigerator work much harder, depending on ambient air temperature. Doing so may also damage heat-sensitive furnishings and equipment. I would suggest simply leaving the air conditioning at the unoccupied setting (e.g. 82).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/27/2006 12:22 p.m.  

  • Thanks for your input.
    This depends heavily on your specific air conditioner and fridge. Generally, it uses less energy to turn your air conditioner off when you're not using it for an extended period of time. Although your fridge may have to work slightly harder, in general, it would take much more energy to leave your air conditioner on. Even at an "unoccupied setting" this will be true.
    Damage to heat sensitive furnishings depends a great deal on your climate. You should keep in mind that heat sensitive furnishings in general are not a sustainable option in climates with high temperature variation.

    By Blogger rnb, at 6/28/2006 9:33 p.m.  

  • Good tips. Here's another one I use to avoid air conditioning at all. Open windows wide on all sides of the house at night, using fans to help create circulation in one side and out the other. During the day, close the windows on the sunny side of the house (close all South windows, and close East in the morning and West in the evening).

    By Blogger zandperl, at 7/09/2006 7:56 p.m.  

  • Living in the northeast with extremely high energy costs I have found over the past 3 years that a CONSTANT temperature of 77 degrees works best when the home is occupied. Older homes with plaster walls & ceilings have a large amount of thermal mass. By no allowing their temperature to rise you reduce the amount of energy needed to cool. Also, a good programmable thermostat is a must. If you program it to allow the temperature to go up a few degrees for a few hours before dawn you will notice a nice savings on you electric bill.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/10/2007 1:43 p.m.  

  • Step 1 - Insulate your home. Everythign you do is a waste of time if you dont insulate the house. Call a company pay $1500.00 and get it done. My heating bills went from $250.00 a month to $90.00 a month by simply doing this and I live in northern michigan where it get's below 0F regularly in winter. Put the heat shrink film on your windows even if you have newer double pane windows. Finally check for and fix air leaks.

    After all that THEN set your thermostat to 67 in winter and 77 in summer. programmable to set it lower/higher when you are not there is even better. I have saved another 20% by doing that as well. (forced air heat/ac only)

    Finally any decent newer fridge (from 1995 or newer) runs just fine all the way up to 100 degrees F. dont worry about the extra $0.03 you spend that month by having the house warmer. If you have a fridge older than that, throw it out NOW. new ones are almost 80% more efficient than the garbage from the late 80's early 90's

    By Blogger Tim Gray, at 2/06/2008 9:55 p.m.  

  • You evidently don't live in a place where humidity is a factor. By letting heat build up when the house is unoccupied during the day, humidity can also reach levels that will damage electronics. I set my indoor temp at 80, run the furnace fan to circulate the cool basement air (which also helps humidity) and the dehumidifier runs with the heat pump/central air.
    By making sure that you have thermal backed drapes on all windows, you will save more than 15% of heating and cooling costs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/09/2009 2:57 p.m.  

  • I agree that turning the airconditioner completely off might be counterproductive in hot climates, especially if it's humid. Simply maintaining a relatively steady temperature will most of the time draw less energy than letting the temperature get far from your ideal temperature and then have your airconditioner work its tuckus off to get it back down.

    If you're only going away for a few hours, I wouldn't touch the airconditioner temp. If leaving home for a whole day, I'd set it on a near-comfortable temp while I was gone. If leaving for a long vacation, though, I'd turn the airconditioner completely off.

    For more tips on reducing airconditioner use, you might want to take a look at my mini series Green home cooling

    By Anonymous Thomas W, at 6/09/2009 12:09 p.m.  

  • Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more dollars of energy than any other system in your home. Usually 43% of your electricity bill goes for heating and cooling. In addition, heating and cooling in the United States together emit 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, contributing to global warming. They also generate about 12% of sulfur dioxide in the nation and 4% of nitrogen oxides, the main ingredients of acid rain.

    By Anonymous Living Green Tips, at 7/28/2010 7:29 a.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home