According to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), only 20% of Northwest Washington homeowners have air conditioning, with 42% cooling their homes through a heat pump in 2012. Compare this to Eastern Washington homes where 65% have air conditioning with 52% of those having central air, or Southwest Washington where 40% of homes had air conditioning via heat pump.
Wow – only 20% have air conditioning! Until a few years ago, we only had high summer temps a few weeks every summer, but in the last three or four years, we have many more hot days than we used to. In fact, in April, the Seattle area broke high-temperature records by hitting 89 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Now that’s hot!
Even if you love the heat, it can make daily life less pleasant at times. For the 80% of homeowners in Northwest Washington without air conditioning, we offer 16 ways for staying cool this summer.
- Keep blinds and curtains closed to block out the sun. You’ll stay cooler and save on energy costs.
- Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise and at a higher speed during the summer.
- Close off rooms that get sun during the hottest part of the day, and allow those rooms to cool at night.
- On cooler summer evenings, open your windows to let the breeze in.
- Create a cross-breeze inside your home by strategically placing your fans.
- Replace your heavy winter and fall sheets with lightweight cotton sheets to keep your bed cooler.
- Make your own air conditioner by putting a shallow bowl with ice in front of a fan to create a cool mist.
- Turn off and unplug personal electronics and small appliances, which can radiate heat, when not in use. Every little bit helps!
- Don’t use your stove or oven for cooking. Instead, make meals that don’t require heat (sandwiches, salads, etc.), or that you can microwave indoors or grill outside instead.
- Staying hydrated with ice water will help keep your body temperature cool.
- Keep frozen treats on hand – popsicles, slushies, smoothies, etc.
- Make space in your refrigerator and/or freezer for wet washcloths, sheets and other little luxuries you can grab to cool off when the heat gets unbearable.
- Cool or cold showers, if you can stand them, can also help bring down your body’s temperature before bed time.
- Take a dip in the pool, run through a lawn sprinkler, visit a water park or wade in a local lake.
- Swap out incandescent light bulbs, which give off heat, and replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are cooler and more environmentally friendly. Learn how to choose the best CFLs at Energy Star.
- Make improvements that will help keep your home cooler in the long-term, such as planting shade trees strategically or adding awnings or outdoor shades to shield your home from the sun.
If these tips aren’t enough to help you beat the worst days of the heat, go to an air conditioned restaurant for dinner, hang out at the library or movie theater when the heat is at its worst, or offer to bring takeover to your friends who have air conditioning!