Conventional air conditioning uses a lot of energy, producing greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Here are some alternative ways to beat the heat, help the environment and save money.
Start by limiting the amount of direct sun coming through windows, especially on the east and west sides of your home. To create shade, try planting trees or use a “solar screen” designed to fit each window.
Curtains and drapes can help on the inside, but it's best to limit direct sunlight before it reaches the glass.
In the mornings and evenings when the temperature outside is cooler, use a "box fan" in the window to help bring in the cooler outside air. Opening windows will also allow for cross ventilation by creating a comfortable air flow.
Fans use 90% less electricity than AC. So rather than cooling the whole house, use portable fans in areas where you spend the most time. Look for EnergyStar-rated ceiling fan/light combo units. They save $15-$20 on your utility bill per year and make rooms feel seven to ten degrees cooler.