Home Cooling Systems

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When it comes to cooling your house, there are a number of options beyond air conditioning.
©iStockphoto/chrisgramly

Although your first thought for cooling may be air conditioning, there are many alternatives that provide cooling with less energy use. A combination of proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, daylighting, shading, and ventilation will usually keep homes cool with a minimum of energy use in all but the hottest climates. Although ventilation should be avoided in hot, humid climates, other approaches can significantly reduce the need to use air conditioning. Before choosing a cooling system, you may want to familiarize yourself with the principles of heating and cooling.

Cooling Tips

  • Set your programmable thermostat as high as is comfortable in the summer, and raise the setpoint when you're sleeping or away from home.
  • Clean or replace filters on air conditioners once a month or as recommended.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  • During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun's heat.
  • Select energy-efficient products when you buy new cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. See the efficiency standards for information on minimum ratings, and look for the ENERGY STAR when purchasing new products.

Cooling Systems

Ventilation Systems for Cooling
Learn how to avoid heat buildup and keep your home cool with ventilation.
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Fans for Cooling
In many parts of the country, well-placed fans are sufficient to maintain comfort during the cooling season.
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Cooling with a Whole House Fan
A whole-house fan, in combination with other cooling systems, can meet all or most of your home cooling needs year round.
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Evaporative Coolers
In warm climates with low humidity, evaporative coolers can be a cost-effective cooling strategy.
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Air Conditioning
Air conditioners work much like a refrigerator, transferring heat from the interior of your home to the outside.
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Radiant Cooling
Although effective in some circumstances, radiant cooling is uncommon in the United States.
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