The Miser's Guide to a Better Planet

By Darryl McMahon

More on Keeping Your Cool

In the last column, I covered how to cool your house while reducing (or eliminating) the use of an air conditioner. This involved trapping "coolth" in the house. However, this won't help much if the furnace is on. There are activities that produce a lot of heat in a house. We want to reduce the heat produced in your house during the hot season.

Avoid using the oven and stove top. On hot days, try serving a meal that requires no cooking. For example, salads, cold cuts and buns. Or use the microwave to heat / cook foods. It uses less energy than the stove or oven (saving money), and creates much less heat in the house. If you can, avoid using the clothes dryer; hang clothes to dry, preferably outdoors.

Buy a blanket for your hot water heater. The better it is insulated, the less heat escapes from the hot water tank, less heat in your home, and less fuel (money) to keep the water in the tank hot. Extending from the tank, buy insulation for any accessible hot water pipes to keep that heat in too. While you're at it, insulate the cold water pipes - this will reduce condensation of warm humid air on the cold pipes, which can lead to water drips.

Shade your windows. You don't want solar gain when it is already hot. Put awnings or some other kind of covering over any windows that receive direct sun. Less effective, but better than nothing, use drapes or blinds or fitted sheets of polystyrene foam inside the windows to reduce the heating effect in the room. The lighter the colour the better (higher reflectivity, lower heat absorption). The more opaque the material, the better (less heat energy gets past it into the house).

When lighting is required, use fluorescent lighting instead of incandescent lighting. About 75% of the energy consumed by an incandescent light ends up as heat, only about 25% as light. Do you remember the Easy-Bake oven from years ago? It actually baked small quantities of food using just a regular light bulb. If a single ordinary light bulb produces enough heat to cook with, consider how much heat a bunch of them are adding to your house. I'll talk about fluorescent lighting more in another column.

Ceiling fans

Use geothermal cooling - Head for the basement

Cold water

Dress for the temperature

Wastewater cooling

Dress for the temperature

Turn the thermostat up (central air)