Friday, July 24, 2009

Simple Ways to Keep Cool

Here's a few basic things to do to keep cool, reduce your carbon output, and cut down on cooling costs this summer:
  • Open windows when it's cooler outside than inside.
  • Even more important: Shut windows when it's hotter outside than inside. I haven't seen this advice elsewhere, but it can keep your house substantially cooler. Once the temperature outside goes above the indoor temperature, open windows heat your house. Try closing them-it may surprise you how much cooler it stays.
Here's some more tips, courtesy of I've been doing some of these for years, and some of them were new to me:
  • Close drapes and shades when sun is shining in, especially on east and west sides of house. Open them when it's cooler outside than in. (It helps if you're a bit obsessive, like me.)
  • Use ceiling and portable fans rather than air conditioning as much as possible. The breeze can make you feel just as comfortable as lowering the temperature 6 degrees.
  • Plant shade trees to block the sun.
If you must use air conditioning, follow these tips:
  • In dry climates (like Santa Fe), use an evaporative (swamp) cooler rather than a conventional refrigerated air conditioner. Conventional A/C uses 4 times the electricity a swamp cooler uses, according to energy company PNM. Swamp coolers only work in fairly dry climates, though.
  • Keep the thermostat as high as possible, 78 F or above. Each degree you raise it saves 2% on your cooling bill. Your house won't cool down any faster by lowering the setting.
  • Minimize opening and shutting doors, which lets heat in.
  • If it's humid, use a dehumidifier. You'll be comfortable at much higher temperatures.
  • Install room air conditioners where they'll be shaded-- they'll work much better. Seal any gaps on the sides with foam insulation.
  • Close off vents in unoccupied rooms. You'll save 5-10% on your energy bill. Close doors to those rooms if possible.
Comment with your ideas, and stay cool!


  1. Polly even has shades she can roll down on her porch to block sun late in the day--the rays never get to the windows!

    Seattle is full of people who recycle. At a fair yesterday, there was a bin for food waste as well. This includes not just the food you don't eat, but the napkins and containers too.

  2. Porch shades--great idea! Large-scale composting is great as well. I think this would be a good business to develop in Santa Fe and other places. People who don't want to compost could pay someone to compost for them (and then maybe get free or discounted compost when they needed it). The composter could also sell compost to others. Or perhaps it's something local government could do.