Quick Tip: Alternatives to Air Conditioning Your Home

Read our guide to learn ventilation know-how that can go a long way towards keeping you cool and saving money on energy bills.

By Bob Vila | Updated Jul 9, 2013 11:16 AM

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Air Conditioning Alternatives

Photo: Flickr

Try Old-School Cooling
Before you crank up the A/C this summer to keep cool, try a little old-fashioned ventilation first. Just keeping air moving can make your home feel much cooler. But it goes beyond opening a window. There’s a little science to it.

Know When to Open and Close Your Windows
If you live where the nights are cool, keep your house sealed during the heat of the day. If it’s well-insulated, it should only heat up about a degree an hour. Open windows and circulate cool air in the evening and early morning. Get some cross-ventilation going by opening windows on opposite sides of the house.

Take Advantage of Cooling Features
Homes designed with cupolas, clerestory windows, vented skylights or even attic vents have the ability to create what’s called a thermosiphon. Hot air escaping from the top of the house pulls warm air with it from the rest of the house and cooler air through lower windows, creating a constant cooling flow. Take advantage of those features or install an attic fan to create the same effect.

Minimize Inside Heat
It helps to minimize the heat you generate inside the house by using the oven, dishwasher and dryer in the evening or early morning hours. Even light bulbs can heat things up, so making the most of the daylight is both cheaper and cooler.

Save Money by Using Window Fans
If you still can’t get the air moving, there’s always the underappreciated window fan. For much less than it costs to run your air conditioner, a fan can give you the summer breeze you’re looking for.