It’s been yet another hot summer! Though we’re about halfway through the season, August and September are still some of the warmest months of the year in Contra Costa, and many of us are consuming a lot of energy to cool our homes. If you aren’t able to make larger scale energy upgrade in your home at the moment, you can still reduce your energy usage and keep costs low. Read on for tips on how to cool down your house and save energy in other ways.
Around the House
Close shutters, blinds, and curtains to keep the sun from beating into your house and driving up room temperature. If you like the sunlight, just close off your windows when you’re out of the house.
Get out of the house more! Though we are lucky to have beautiful weather in the Bay Area almost year-round, there are so many things you can do outside during the hottest months. Go swimming, take a hike in a shaded area, or go visit the park with family and friends.
While you’re away from the house, set your thermostat to about 85℉. If you shut your blinds and keep the sunlight out, your house shouldn’t get too hot.
When you’re home, set your thermostat to at least a temperature of 78℉.
Utilize ceiling and standing fans to keep the house cool - and for less money than running your air conditioner!
Open your windows in the evening and through the night (if you feel comfortable to do so) to introduce loads of fresh, cool air into your home. Propping doors open allows the fresh air to circulate through your house.
Rather than turning on your lights, try to utilize natural light. They can get very hot, and you’ll be saving energy on something you don’t really need during the day!
Unplug appliances and electronics, and turn off power strips when they are not being used. Even if a lamp or television isn’t switched on, the plug still draws out some energy. According to The Simple Dollar, this is called “phantom power usage”.
Clear the areas around vents in your home so as not to block cool air from entering the room.
Do you have an extra refrigerator in the garage that you don’t really use? If so, unplug it, and consider donating it.
Seal up/caulk cracks and other ‘holes’ where hot air can seep in from outside and vice versa. This is a great investment, as it also has the same effect in the fall and winter months when you want to keep the cool air out and warm air in.
Take cooler showers. Though not everyone can handle this, you’ll be saving a good amount of energy (and money) over time by opting not to heat up the water. Not to mention, you’ll cool down from the summer heat, and cool water helps to make your hair shinier and softer (for those that mind).
In the Kitchen
Opt for cooking on the stove or grilling food, and avoid using the oven till temperatures cool down. If you have a sweet tooth and have a hard time giving up baking, check out this list of no-bake desserts. Homemade popsicles are also a great treat that you can easily customize.
If you must use the oven, do so at night or early in the morning when temperatures are cool.
As with your oven, run your dishwasher early in the morning or at night when temperatures are cool to prevent hot, muggy air from increasing the temperature in the kitchen.
Ever turned on the fan above your stove and forgot about it for a while? PG&E advises to turn stove and bathroom fans off 10 minutes after the job is done to prevent displacement of cool air to the outdoors.
Incorporate more raw food into your diet. Opt for fresh vegetables and fruits whenever you can to reduce the amount of energy spent heating up your food. Raw food is also very nutritious, and it’s very hydrating - an important thing during hot summer months. Use fresh herbs and spices to liven up raw foods.
For those that style their hair with straighteners, curlers, and the like, try to cut down your usage by a day or two a week if possible. Wear your hair up, scrunch in some gel, or put on a hat.
In the Laundry Room
Wash with cold water whenever possible to reduce energy spent on heating water. If you make your own laundry powder, you may find that the mixture gets gunky if hot water isn’t used. To resolve this issue, check out how to convert your homemade laundry powder into liquid form on this blog.
Nix the dryer, and take advantage of the warm air outside by line drying your clothes or setting up a laundry rack inside. If you are worried about stiffness, pop your laundry in the dryer for about five to 10 minutes depending on the load size, then hang to dry.
Evaluate your laundry situation. Does that shirt you only wore once need to be washed? If an item has an obvious smell or stain, wash it. But is that shirt you wore once worth washing? You could reduce the amount of loads you need to wash, which reduces energy, water, and time spent on laundry.
If you have a pool, slowly decrease filtration time by 30 minutes each day as long as the water appears clean. According to Pacific Power, you may only need to run the filter six hours a day.
Make sure there is nothing blocking the air conditioner vent outside, as this can reduce the effectiveness of ventilation. According to Outlier, you can save about $20 a year by clearing pathways for vents both outside and inside.
Bring in an inspector to make sure there are no leaks or clogged areas. This can easily be scheduled and will give you peace of mind.