Your first thought for cooling may be air conditioning. While air conditioning is often required to remain safe and comfortable in the hottest of climates, there are many alternatives that provide cooling with less energy use in climates where passive cooling is sufficient. Using a combination of proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, daylighting, shading, and ventilation will usually keep homes cool with less air conditioning. Before choosing a cooling system, you may want to familiarize yourself with the principles of heating and cooling.
- 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.
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