July 19, 2021 by Emily Huddleston
Summer is officially here and many of us are struggling to stay cool in our homes. Blasting the AC can hike up your utility bills, and it’s not an environmentally conscious solution either. So are there any other ways to keep your house cool while saving money and minimizing your carbon footprint? Definitely!
To help you get started we reached out to sustainability experts all across North America, from Broomfield, CO to Toronto, ON, to get their best advice. Here are their top tips for cooling down your house in an eco-friendly way.
1. Tint your home’s windows. Living in the Southeast means we deal with hot summers. One of the best sustainable choices we ever made was to tint our home’s windows. Not only do they offer more privacy to our home, but they also keep the sun’s heat out. We love that we can still see through the windows, unlike when you hang curtains or blinds. – So Easy Being Green
2. Plant native or edible (non-invasive) vines on the south side of your home. This can be done on trellises, an arbor, or in pots with strings for the vines to climb up. This may include native honeysuckle, hops, green beans, hardy kiwi, and more. Vines offer an advantage over trees as many tend to grow fast—and can work well for any type of home. – Great Ecology
3. Utilize house fans for nighttime cooling. When night temperatures drop below indoor temperatures, the idea is to pull out the indoor air and replace it with outside air. This can be done by opening windows, using window fans, or best of all is to have a central whole house fan installed. Besides saving on electric bills, you will also benefit from the fresher air and lower levels of carbon dioxide. – AirScape
4. Set your ceiling fan’s direction counter-clockwise. To cool a room without blasting the air conditioner, set your ceiling fan’s direction counter-clockwise to create more circulation. If that’s not an option try an oscillating fan, which has a similar effect by continuously changing the direction of the airflow. Pour yourself a cold beer if it’s still too warm; it may not cool the room off much, but it should temporarily take your mind off the heat. – Ecofriendly Beer Drinker
5. Create vertical gardens in your home. Living walls are aesthetically pleasing, and they can also help improve the air quality and reduce the ambient temperature. Plants can directly reduce heat by the transpiration process to create a cooler ambient temperature. – Watex Green Living
6. Compost the garden every spring and fall. This is critical to the moisture-holding capacity of your garden. The soil temperature can be ten degrees or warmer than the air temperature in warm months. Having soil that holds moisture cools the soil that surrounds your home and gives vitality to the trees and plants that shade your home, creating a win-win in coolness. – Malibu Compost
7. Unplug electronic devices and chargers when not in use. Did you know those electronic devices that are plugged in generate unnecessary heat? This is bad news both for you and the planet. If you’re not using them, unplug them. – Evapolar
8. Use a power strip to turn off multiple electronics at once. This will make it much easier to unplug devices and chargers when not in use. – Reduce Energy Use DC
9. Cool your home using 100% renewable energy. Nearly all air conditioners run on electricity, which means it is theoretically possible for you to cool your home using 100% renewable energy. Most grid electricity is generated from non-renewable sources like natural gas and coal. But 15 states have deregulated energy markets and allow residential customers to choose their energy supply. So even if you can’t put solar panels on your roof, many of us can still select a 100% renewable electricity supply if your state’s electric utilities are deregulated to allow for customer choice. – Sustainable Summer
10. Avoid running high-powered appliances until nighttime. This can include the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and stove. When you use them at night, you can open your windows to let the heat escape. Vacuum cleaners and some other appliances can also put out a lot of heat, so do that in the evening as well. – Sustainable Broomfield
11. Fight the humidity and purify the air by diffusing cold water. Fill an aromatherapy diffuser up with cold water and add a few drops of essential oil. We suggest peppermint essential oil because when it is diffused into the air, its menthol property can trigger and activate the receptors in your body that are responsible for feeling cold. For an extra cooling effect, you can also apply a drop (diluted with water) to the back of your neck. – Green Living Show
12. Naturally cool a room with plants. They consume hot air through respiration, and they add water vapor to the air through transpiration which increases humidity and can cool down the room. Plus, they look nice and can block incoming sunlight in windows, and bonus points for sequestering carbon. – Ocean Conservancy
13. Get creative with an ice chest and a fan. When the electricity goes out in the summer, my favorite way to cool down is to fill a portable ice chest or large shallow tub with ice cubes and place the fan behind it, angled downward. What works even better is cutting holes in the top of an old cooler to accommodate one small portable fan and one 2-inch diameter 90-degree PVC connector at either end. Fill the cooler with ice, place the fan face down over the top of the larger hole and the PCV connector in the smaller hole to get the fan to blow air over the ice and out of the pipe to cool your room even on an intensely hot day. – Green and Prosperous
14. If building new construction, keep cooling options in mind. Keeping yourself cool starts during the construction phase of the house by choosing the lighter colors for the exterior and doing some creative yard planning. Also, solar energy comes into play as well since the profile of electricity demand for space cooling generally matches (to some degree) that of solar energy output. – Greenline Print
Emily is part of the content marketing team at Redfin and enjoys writing about real estate trends and home improvement. Her dream home would be a charming Tudor-style house with large windows to let in lots of natural light.