5 ways to stay cool without warming the planet

Summertime is a sweltering, sweaty season. Houston probably wouldn’t be the same if air conditioning wasn’t invented. Even though we’re cooler, we’re not doing the environment any favors. Air conditioning during the summer uses a significant amount of energy and puts pressure on Texas’ energy grid. Most of the state’s energy comes from non-renewable resources, and results in greenhouse gas emissions. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, energy consumption for home air conditioning results in the release of roughly 196 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year in the United States. Additionally, AC units release coolants over time that harm the Earth’s ozone layer.

Instead of using the air conditioner, why not try other methods to stay cool without negatively impacting the planet?

  1. Use a paper fan – You can easily create your own paper fan by folding it accordion-style and binding the end. Use discarded paper to be extra eco-conscious. Waft the paper fan as needed.blue paper fan
  2. Drink cold beverages or frozen desserts –Ingesting cold beverages and frozen desserts help cool your body down thermally. There are tons of simple recipes online for ice popsice cream and cold beverages. Cold, fresh-cut fruit is also a healthy and refreshing option.
  3. Use ceiling, plug-in or portable fans – If you’re indoors and mostly stationary in one room of the home, fans generally use less electricity and cool even faster than air conditioners. Make sure to unplug fans after use so they don’t drain energy, and consider using rechargeable batteries for portable fans. Energy Star-certified fans are best. ceiling fan
  4. Situate in a lower, shadier area of a building – If possible, situate yourself in a ground-level room with indirect sunlight access. Warm air rises, so upper floors can be hotter than the ground floor. Rooms that don’t directly face the sun or have shade coverage are ideal because you can leave the blinds or drapes open without direct heat entering.
  5. Ice tricks – Here are some cooling methods using ice:
    1. Take a glass, and fill it almost to the brim with ice cubes. Blow into it and out will come cooler air.
    2. Drop salted ice in a metal bowl and place it in front of a fan. The salted ice will evaporate and disperse cooler air around the room.ice_cubes_in_a_glass

Take a look at WikiHow for more ways to beat the heat this summer.

When you do use air conditioners, it’s best to purchase one with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of at least 10. These units use less energy to produce the same amount of air conditioning and are recommended in hotter climates. To save energy and money on home cooling, regularly clean and replace your cooling unit’s filters.  Although you may be tempted to crank up the AC, try to keep the temperature in the low to mid 70s. Also, keep the blinds closed on windows that face the sun to reduce the amount of solar heat entering your home. The Department of Energy has several useful tips for home cooling efficiency.

If you have any of your own suggestions or tips on how to stay cool without air conditioning, leave some feedback in the comments section!

-Michael Nguyen


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