image credit: gregzweb.com
Here in the Midwest, the so-called “dog days” of summer are upon us even earlier than usual. (Ever wonder about the origin of the term “dog days”? It seems that ancient people believed that the heat was the fault of Sirius, the dog star, being in close proximity to the sun.)
We have trolled the internet and our experience to come up with some cool tips for readers, to help you stay more comfortable this summer without breaking the bank!
Air conditioning maintenance
There are things you can do to help your A/C unit run more efficiently, and, therefore, affordably. Here’s a couple of tips from the Greener Ideal website:
One of the easiest ways to make your air conditioning unit operate more efficiently is to ensure it is clear from any excess brush, plants, or garbage that may have accumulated over the winter. If the air flow pathway is kept clear, air has an easier time getting in and the A/C unit doesn’t have to work as hard. This rule goes the same if you’re using a window unit and have clutter inside your house or apartment. Make some extra space around the air intake and your cooling unit will run much smoother.
And when the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard, you consume less energy. Think green, and save on the amount of energy required to cool your house.
Keeping the outside of your A/C unit clear is great, but if you don’t keep your air filters clean it won’t do any good. Not only should you take out your air filters and give them a good cleaning every few weeks, but they should also be completely replaced at least once a season.
Depending on what kind of air conditioning unit you have, you may be able to clean the filters even more often. If you’re using a window-style or standalone unit, it’s easy to take out, rinse and scrub the filters and have them back in the unit in a few minutes.
This is one of the easiest ways to make sure your air conditioner is operating as energy efficiently as possible.
I’ve been turning the thermostat up a few degrees when I leave the house. No point in cooling unoccupied space. Daniel has been experimenting with keeping his house warmer, so there is less contrast in his day between outdoor and indoor air temperatures. He is happy so far with this arrangement.
For those of you with programmable thermostats, you might play with having the temperature come up a few degrees while you sleep, and then adjust to your more preferred setting upon awakening.
At our niece’s outdoor wedding this month, where the temperature reached 96 degrees, we used paper Chinese fans to keep ourselves a bit cooler. They actually worked pretty well. If you’d like to learn more about the history of these fans, I came across a pretty interesting article.
Your choice of wardrobe can help, too. Loosely woven cotton “breathes” better than do synthetic fabrics like polyesters. Even though your black t-shirt may look cool under usual circumstances, you will feel cooler wearing white or lighter-colored clothing if you’re going to be out in the sun.
Speaking of being out in the elements, sunscreen is an important ally. Getting sunburned will make you hotter and is hard on your health. Last year we posted some research on sunscreens to help you make better choices as a consumer. The efficacy, healthfulness, and truthfulness of labelling of products on the market vary widely, so it pays to be an educated shopper. You'll notice in the linked article that the FDA was supposed to have implemented rules for manufacturers this month; this edict has been delayed until December to give companies time to meet the new standards.
Enjoy these dog days the best you can and we’ll be back with more green living tips later in the summer.