We Americans use (or waste) a huge amount of energy on air-conditioning.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2015 “Residential Energy Consumption Survey,” revised in March 2018, says 87% of all homes in the United States have some form of air-conditioning. As a result, roughly 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Carbon dioxide is bad enough, but air-conditioners also contain refrigerants called hydrofluorocarbons that can leak out during use, maintenance and disposal. HFCs are among the most potent and longest-lasting of all greenhouse gases, and recent research has shown that HFC emissions increased 54% between 2007 and 2012. So the very act of cooling ourselves is contributing to rising temperatures!
Thankfully, we can reduce the amount of air-conditioning we use at home. Whether you have central or room air-conditioners — or none at all — you can keep your home cooler in the summer by following some simple tips:
- In the morning, open your windows to let in the cooler air.
- Once it starts to heat up, close your windows and draw the shades or blinds.
- In the evening, open everything up again.
Also, consider “twin” window fans, the kind that can be set to expel or draw in air. Once it’s cooler outside, run them for a few hours before going to bed. Make sure to keep the door of your bedroom closed. When it’s time to go to bed, you’ll find that your room has cooled down considerably.
Even during heat waves, you don’t need to have your air-conditioning going all the time. Just set your thermostat higher. Once the air-conditioner lowers the humidity, you’ll find you’re comfortable enough, even with your thermostat set as high as 80 degrees.