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Utility Tips: How to Keep Cool Without an AC

According to Harvey Sachs of the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the movement of air over the skin’s surface is what keeps the body cool. Many figure the only utility option during a heat wave is an air conditioner; however, there are several techniques available to help keep a room cooler that do not require costly air conditioners. These techniques will reduce electricity cost and help protect the environment.

Fans and Ceiling Fans:
A ceiling fan can make a room feel six or seven degrees cooler. Fans use very little energy, however, when air is circulating, it will help make the room feel much cooler. Ceiling fans have been found to work best, but a good portable fan can be very effective as well. Even mild air movement of one mph could make it feel three or four degrees cooler.

Shades, Drapes or Blinds:
Always remember that the best way to keep a home cool is to keep the heat out. One simple home improvement project to keep you cool involves installing white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Be sure to close blinds, shades and draperies facing the sun to keep the sun’s heat out and help fans cool more efficiently.

Internal Heat:
The most common sources of internal heat gain are appliances, electronic devices and lighting. The heat they produce will make it feel like the room is warmer than it actually is. Unless absolutely needed, turn off incandescent lights and heat-generating appliances. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents; they produce the same light but use a fifth the energy and heat. Heat-generating activities, such as cooking, on hot days or during the hottest part of the day should also be avoided. If cooking is unavoidable, use a range fan to vent the hot air out of the house.

Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides will keep your house cooler in the summer and allow the sunlight to warm the house during the winter. Often times, daytime air temperatures can be between three to six degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods.

Roof and Walls:
Another easy home improvement project to keep you cool involves painting your roof white. Flat roofs should be painted with a specially formulated reflective paint or paint it white. The reflective effect will help to keep the rooms under the roof much cooler.

One method to staying cool is to wet your wrists and other pulse points with cold water, and then keep those spots cool by holding an ice cube wrapped in a face cloth against them. The relief is immediate, and this method will cool down the entire body by as much as three degrees. It may also be beneficial to wear short-sleeved shirts and keep the sleeves wet with cold water. Keeping the pant legs of long pants wet is also a good way to keep your legs cool.

These strategies can be especially effective at night. Still, it is important to shut the windows when leaving for the day in the morning to keep the cooler air in and the warmth of the new day out. Keep blinds shut and curtains drawn to prevent sunlight from pouring into the house. Keep in mind: lights left on are not only wasting electricity, they are creating heat as well.



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