Energy-Saving Tips for Cooling Homes of All Sizes

Stay cool sustainably all summer long.
Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i Energy

Summer is officially here, and with record-high temps around the globe, all signs are pointing to the latter half of 2020 being something to get really hot and bothered about. So how can you beat the sweltering heat waves in your home? We looked to the energy experts at Hawai‘i Energy for some answers.

When it comes to staying cool for summer, there are a range of options to suit the needs of different local homes. Check out the Hawai‘i Energy cooling rebates page for details and even more options, to see what fits your home and lifestyle.

Speaking of which, not all homes are created equal when it comes to cooling. Here are some tips on where to start, whether you’re an apartment dweller or a single-family-home owner:

Cooling apartments

You may not have control over your building’s type of cooling system and how energy-efficient (or not!) it really is, so try opting for fans over air conditioning where possible. (Hint: Ceiling fan blades should be going in a counter-clockwise direction for maximum efficiency.) The good news? Higher up units often have a better opportunity to catch some serious tradewind action. If your location allows it, open all your windows, especially those situated directly across from each other, to allow the wind to flow through and create a refreshing cross-breeze throughout the whole unit.

Tall buildings mean no obstructions from direct sunlight, and those rays pouring in through your sliding door can create a greenhouse effect, heating up your home, and requiring more energy to cool it. Combat that by keeping shades and blinds drawn, especially on windows that get direct sunlight, and invest in blackout curtains for those particularly east- or west-facing areas that get hit hard when the sun is low. Just closing blinds can reduce heat by up to 45%!

Switch to LEDs! (This goes for single-family-home owners, too.) Not only are they more energy-efficient, they actually give off less heat than old incandescent bulbs.

Cooling Single-Family Homes

Tradewinds and fans are energy-efficient choices no matter the space, but single-family homes with attics could especially benefit from a dedicated attic fan, which is designed to ventilate the home by pushing out hot, humid air that tends to collect in the attic.

If you do go the AC route, make sure your model is energy-efficient. ENERGY STAR® certified models can use up to 15% less energy. In addition, make sure you select an AC that’s the right size: not too big or too small for the space you’re cooling. For example, a single-family-home-sized air conditioner tasked with cooling your small apartment means lots of cycling on and off — and energy drain. Trying to get a small bedroom AC to work extra duty in the living area, on the other hand, means constant running and ineffective cooling.

Practice good AC habits: That means setting timers so you don’t forget to turn them off, sealing up the room by closing doors and windows to prevent cold air from escaping, and prioritizing which rooms to cool. (Consider only using an AC in the bedroom on hot nights, and keeping days and living spaces cool with fans and tradewinds.)

Categories: Cooling and Ventilation, Digital Exclusive, Sustainability