Keeping our houses cool with air conditioners costs Americans about $11 billion a year. And those air conditioners release about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air annually -- two tons for each home that has one.
With the demand for home air-conditioning systems in the U.S. at an all-time high, summer’s toll on the environment is probably going to get worse.
The good news is that by following some green tips at home this summer, you can cool off, save money, and make a sizable dent in your carbon footprint. “If we can reduce carbon emissions from homes just 5%, it’s like taking three-quarters of the cars off the road,” says Trey Muffett, building science director for Sustainable Spaces, a home performance retrofitter in San Francisco.
Your eco-cooling steps can be as big as installing insulation in your house or as little as changing some of your everyday habits. “I always encourage people to go for the low-tech solutions first because you can do those starting tomorrow,” says Aaron Pope, manager of sustainability programs for the California Academy of Sciences.
5 Tips to Reduce Body Heat
The lowest-tech ways to keep cool this summer start with your own body.
Wear clothes in natural fabrics. “Fabrics such as cotton, hemp, and linen ‘breathe’ better than synthetic fibers and naturally wick moisture away from the body,” says Kimberly Rider, author of The Healthy Home Workbook.
Eat cool. Dine on salads and sandwiches instead of large, protein-rich meals when the weather is hot, as these can warm your body up. Oven- or stove-top cooking heats up your house as well.
Stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the heat, as these can promote dehydration. Drink more water than usual or consider an electrolyte replacement drink if you’re sweating a lot.
Cool off with water. Soak your feet in a tub of cold water, put on a wet bandana, or take a cool shower. Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator and spritz yourself regularly throughout the day.
Head down and out. When your home is at its hottest, remember that the basement is the coolest place in the house. Or plan outings to air-conditioned buildings -- such as the library or a movie theater – during peak hot hours.