Although air conditioning is often used for home cooling, there are many alternatives that provide cooling with less energy use. A combination of proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, daylighting, shading, fans, and ventilation can often keep homes cool with a minimum of energy use in all but the hottest climates.
Air conditioner options include room air conditioners, ductless mini-split or multi-split air conditioners, and central air conditioning. Look for ENERGY STAR certified air conditioners. Purchase an air conditioner that is sized correctly for your home or space that needs to be cooled; an oversized air conditioner performs less efficiently and effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit. Work with your contractor to determine the correct size for a central air conditioner.
Fans can help provide home cooling and comfort. Ceiling fans cool by creating a wind chill effect and can allow you to turn up the thermostat about 4°F. In summer, use the ceiling fan in a counterclockwise direction to create a wind chill effect; turn off the fan when you aren’t in the room. In winter, reverse the fan to run clock-wise and force warm air down from the ceiling.
Whole-house fans pull cool air through the house and exhaust warm air through the attic. Use the fan during cooler times of the day to most effectively cool down your house.
Evaporative coolers, or “swamp coolers,” cool outdoor air with evaporated water. The cooler air is directed into the home and warmer air pushed out through windows. They work well in climates where the air is hot and humidity is low.
- Set your thermostat as high as is comfortable when you’re home and awake in the summer, and raise the temperature when you’re sleeping or away from home.
- Clean or replace filters on air conditioners once a month or as recommended.
- Except for fans that are designed for continuous operation, turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
- Turn off ceiling fans when you leave a room.
- Set the fan switch on your thermostat to “Auto” unless an indoor air quality professional has set up your system to operate continuously for health reasons.
- During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun’s heat.