Old Fashioned Fun Ways to Keep Cool

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As summer approaches and promises to be a scorcher, we all need to think about the energy consumption. There are numerous ways to keep cool without the use of the air conditioning systems we have in own homes. Whether you have an old home or planning to build a new home there are architectural ways to take advantage of natural cooling. There are also ways that we can adapt our older homes to be more energy conservative while staying cool.

If you are building a new home talk to the contractor about using the natural resources of how the sun rises and sets and wind direction. When building the roof make it reflective and insulate with earth friends cellulose fiber to help keep the entire house cool while the sun beats down on the roof. The major room where the family gathers during the day should be facing either north or south instead of east and west, windows and doors should be opposite of each other for crosswinds. Keep those doors and windows open during the day to keep air moving through the house, and all the other windows closed and invest in insulated windows and blinds to keep heat out in summer; and in winter helps to keep heat in.

These are also modification that can be made to older homes as well. Maybe not switching the house so it’s not facing east, but modifications to the roof can be made on any home as well as extending the eaves to help in reflecting heat. You can upgrade to insulated windows and make sure all windows and doors are screened. If you not able to get a cross breeze then keep one window open with ceiling fans or pedestal fans to circulate the air. Cooling the air is not as important as circulation, because the human body eliminates heat through evaporation; therefore moving air cools the body better than stagnant cool air. Another trick you can use in an older home is to use a small window air conditioner in a small room and keep the doors open, even one to the outside. The purpose of this cooling effect depends on the air moving throughout the house.

Another way to use the outside air to your advantage is the night air. The temperature drops drastically at night, open windows and ducts to let the night air in, then when morning comes close up the east side of the house, then in the evening close the west side of the house. If you plan on doing anything physical do it in the early morning or evening. You should conserve your own energy and engage in activities that will keep you cool such as going to the beach or relaxing in your backyard pool. Trees and shrubs also help to shade the yard and even the house; and don’t use any appliances that exude heat such as the oven and dishwasher, try to use the microwave more and by all means keep the refrigerator door closed.

There are a couple of alternative means of decreasing heat depending on what part of the country that you live in. If you live in an area that is tropical and humidity is a problem, set up dehumidifiers. It doesn’t cool the air, but is extracts the humidity out of the air to make the air more comfortable and tolerable. If you live in a dry area of the country there is a cooling unit called an evaporative cooler or a swamp cooler. It is a very simple machine that uses a quarter of the electricity of a standard air conditioner and uses no ozone depleting chemicals to run. They do need a lot of maintenance, but if you are energy conscious it’s worth the work. They are available is all sizes from cooling the whole house, to just a single room. The only problem is that it can only be used in dry heat locations.

Of course these are all just ideas to use to lower your energy cost and to reduce the CO2 released into the atmosphere. And not everyone should go to these extremes. If you have chronic lung disease or in general bad health and absolutely the elderly should use the air conditioning systems they have on those hot days. Anyone with these conditions should talk to their physician before attempting to go without a cooling agent in their home, but if you have the go ahead try some of these alternatives and see which one’s work for you and your family.

Photo by: Galina Barskaya –

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  1. Thank you for these tips. I didn’t understand the one about leaving a small window airconditioner on with open windows and an open door. Wouldn’t that just use a lot of electricity to try to cool the great outdoors?

    I hope you will elaborate more on that.

    I have become great fan of shade cloth. I have shade cloth curtains outside that shield my patios and block a lot of heat before it enters my house. I also use shade cloth overhead
    to shield a glass door to my house and to cover a child’s play area. The play area needs three layers of shade cloth in order to keep the play equipment at a comfortable temperature for little sliding bodies.

    Awnings on the west windows that aren’t sheltered by patio also help a great deal.

    Thanks again!

    best regards,


  2. Green Life Staff says:

    The idea of the open door and small window air conditioner on, is to move the air out of room, and get out the heat. Is an effect to change the direction of the air to the outside. It’s not to leave all the time the open door.


  3. Susan Eskins says:

    Great informative site!

  4. i own an older home that is small, but we have awnings above our west facing windows in utah and it helps keep the temps down by much.

  5. bagsmerchant says:

    hmmmm,thank you for your suggestion!
    here is the hottest weather now !

  6. thanks for the tips, i think people have forgotten a lot of these in lieu of energy dependent alternatives.

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