The spring-to-summer transition in Colorado can be anywhere from unnoticeable to shocking. Case in point: the last few weeks we've had afternoon showers, mellow temperatures in the 60s and 70s, and overnight low temperatures in the 50s (read: good sleeping weather). Not anymore. Suddenly it's bright and sunny, with highs in the 90s, and the sun here—since we are a mile closer to it than most U.S. cities—can make you feel like you're living under a magnifying glass.
All this is to say, summer is here and it's hot. So how can we keep cool without burning holes in our wallets?
In my home, we use insulated curtains that block out the hot sunrays in the afternoon (we have west-facing windows). We also pull in the evening and morning cool air with fans, and keep the thermostat set pretty high to minimize our use of the central air conditioner. Since I live in a condo, I can't control things like improving insulation or installing attic fans, so I focus on the smaller things. The same goes for apartment renters.
At Energy Savers, we have plenty of low- and no-cost ways to save energy in the summer that just about anyone can use such as:
- Taking advantage of natural ventilation—especially if it cools off at night where you live
- Using window treatments and coverings to gain cool air and keep out heat
- Setting your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer
- Using a ceiling fan to keep air circulating
- Following the suggestions in our previous blog entry on How to Save Energy in the Kitchen During the Summer.
While many people can do more to save energy at home—from adding insulation to installing energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights—for others these options are financially out of reach. Fortunately, there is a program available to help the economically disadvantaged increase the energy efficiency of their homes. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and run by individual states and territories, the Weatherization Assistance Program enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.
By using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols, the program has helped more than 6.4 million U.S. households over the past 30 years. Weatherization services include the building envelope (insulation, windows, doors, weatherstripping, and air sealing), heating and cooling systems, electrical systems, and appliances.
If you're interested in the program, the first step is to contact your state weatherization agency and apply for assistance. Upon approval, your state agency will have a professional energy assessment performed on your home and then schedule the work to be provided. See an overview—including a video—of the energy assessment process.
Andrea Spikes is a communicator at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its websites.