In summer, high relative humidity, elevated air temperatures and bright sunshine can sometimes combine to produce an uncomfortable indoor environment. An air-conditioning system can provide comfort for occupants by lowering the air temperature and the humidity level in the home, but there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the need for mechanical cooling in your home, thereby minimizing the capacity and cost of the equipment that you purchase and the amount of electricity that it will consume. Here are some actions you can take to reduce your home’s cooling requirements:
- Caulk and weatherstrip to seal air gaps, and ensure that the attic and exterior walls are insulated to meet or exceed the minimum recommended levels to minimize heat transfer to the interior.
- Use awnings, blinds or drapes to keep direct sunlight from entering the living space. Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides of the house and wide roof overhangs will reduce solar heat gain to the interior in summer, while having only a small effect on heating in winter.
- Light-coloured exterior finishes will also help reduce solar heat gain year-round.
- Turn on the kitchen rangehood fan when cooking, if it exhausts outside, and turn on the bathroom fan while bathing to minimize moisture buildup in the space.
- Turn off lights and appliances that are not needed. Plan heat- and moisture-generating activities (cooking, dish washing, drying clothes and bathing) for cooler morning and evening hours. Consider using appliances with time-delay controls. In addition to generating heat and humidity at a less noticeable time (after midnight, for example), your air conditioner will operate more efficiently in the cooler night hours.
- Select compact fluorescent lamps and energy-efficient appliances, since they produce less waste heat than conventional products. The electricity consumed by a less efficient refrigerator, for example, is converted to heat, which is released into your kitchen.
For more tips on how to reduce your home’s cooling requirements and save money on your energy bills, visit the website of the Natural Resources Canada.