Ok, I know. You think I’m going to tell you that you have to suck it up and just sit there and sweat. But no! You are totally wrong.
Actually, living in Southern California like I do, I am fully aware that AC’s are among the great gifts of the last 100 years. But how can we love the planet and our AC? Is it possible to save energy and be comfortable?
Sure it is. Start with the simple. This is a very hot time of year (in much of the country). There are several simple things you can do to cool off.
1. BUY WINDOW FILM: You have probably seen this stuff in the stores. When I was a kid it was this hideously sticky stuff that once you applied, it was on forever, or at least the adhesive was. But times have changed and it is now much improved. You can now buy it at any number of places. And many of the brands use static, or water to hold the film on the glass. And here’s the cool part: You can reduce the amount of heat that enters your home by 20 – 40% by spending one day putting this film up. The price has come down a lot in recent years, but you can save money by just putting the film on the windows that have the most sun exposure. (Often the south facing windows, but you know your house). If you feel that you’re gung ho and going to put it everywhere, good for you. But my recommendation is spend the money where it does the most good. Can you imagine how much you could save by cutting 20-40% of the heat that enters your house during the summer days. I’m guessing enough to pay for the film in just one summer. So where do you find it. Most home improvement stores have it, but you can even get it on Amazon now.
2. CHANGE YOUR LIGHT BULBS: Incandescent Light Bulbs are not at all efficient. Only 15% of the energy they use goes towards producing light. 15%.! That is horrible. That means that 85% of the energy produces heat. “Whatever!” you think. How much heat can a light bulb produce. Well, having a theater background, I can tell you with authority, A LOT. Anyone who has ever been on stage knows how hot the lights are. Your home’s lights are not that hot, but you’d be surprised how much heat they do generate. If you switch to CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs) you will dramatically reduce the heat being generated as wasted energy. A CFL can produce the same amount of light with 1/4 or less energy, and considerably less heat. They also save a huge amount of energy. So, that one move will cut your power bill dramatically, (Mine dropped by 70% when I made the switch.) and keep your house much cooler.
3. INSULATING PAINT ADDITIVES: This is a very cool new technology. Several companies now produce a powdered additive that you mix into paint and it will increase the insulation of your walls. How cool is that? I am no scientist, but what I’ve read is this additive is basically ceramic powder. When your paint dries, it forms a very thin ceramic layer that insulates your wall. Some of the additives will increase your walls insulation by 20% in one application. That means you’ll keep out radiant heat, and in cool air in the summer, (visa verse in the winter). I’m not suggesting you paint your wall if you don’t need to, but if you’re planning home improvements, why not save the planet and your wallet, by increasing your home’s efficiency.
In these difficult economic times, every dollar makes a difference. You can make these simple changes, and after you have done what you can to make your home more efficient, why not run your AC? I firmly believe that if we all do what we can, (without worrying about being perfect) we can all make an enormous difference for the world and for our pocketbooks.