There are many days in Sacramento and much of Central California where it’s impossible to function without the use of an air conditioner. As of July 23rd, we’ve had 8 days with high temperatures above 100 degrees, and 21 out of 23 days have had highs of 90 or more.
When it’s that hot out, it’s absolutely necessary to have a functioning AC, as cracking a window is only going to make your house warmer. However, when we look to the homes of yesteryear, we find that our forebears were experts at taking advantage of cool evenings, and utilized a number of other clever innovations to keep indoor temperatures down.
Would you like to cut your cooling costs? Here are just a few ideas for decreasing your reliance on your air conditioner and reducing your electricity bills.
Create cross drafts to pump in cool evening or morning air from outside.
Have you ever walked through a home or building a felt a strong breeze flowing through? This is accomplished by creating a “cross draft.” Cross drafts are formed when two openings are created—such as with two windows, or with a window and door—that are spaced apart and align with one another.
A cross draft is great for rapidly pumping hot daytime air out of a home and replacing it with cooler evening air. If you’ve left your air conditioner off during the day, creating a cross draft is a much more cost efficient way of cooling your home off.
This is easiest to accomplish if you live in a narrow shotgun style home in which the front door aligns with a back door or bedroom window; these can be used to create a cross draft that runs through the entire home. But, any room in which a room has windows or other openings on two opposing walls can be opened up to create a cross draft.
If you have an openable skylight, use a fan to push hot air up and out.
Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, the occasional home featured a cupola, a small turret-like structure with open sides that allowed hot air to escape out the top. This effect can be recreated if you have skylights which can be opened. To maximize this effect, position a fan under it, blowing up and out the skylight. This will create a vacuum which pulls cool air in through open windows.
Make the most of your porch—overhangs help shade the front of your home.
If you ever walk through Midtown Sacramento, you’ll find many homes from the turn of the century through the ‘30s and ‘40s which feature large porches. Some homes even have porches that wrap around one or both sides.
Porches have a dual benefit. First, they create a comfortable, shaded area to sit outside when the weather is good. Secondly, the roof over a porch shades the front wall and windows of the home, reducing the amount of sunlight absorbed by the home as heat.
If your porch has minimal protection, see what options you have for installing or extending porch overhangs. You can also visit your local hardware store, which likely carries outdoor shades designed for installation on patios and porches.
Go old school with window awnings.
If you ever look at photos of apartment buildings and homes from the turn of the century, you might notice that it wasn’t unusual for windows to have awnings installed above them.
These fabric coverings reflected sunlight and shaded windows and the rooms they opened onto. Some homes even had awnings installed over their porches in order to maximize the cooling potential provided by the roof overhanging the porch.
We are fortunate to live in an era in which we can take technologies like air conditioning for granted. And if you live in Central California, then it’s imperative that you get your air conditioning serviced if it isn’t working correctly. That’s why Gilmore Heating Air & Plumbing is here—we’re just a phone call or an email away.
But it’s also possible to stretch your cooling budget by taking advantage of some of the time-tested strategies described above. Gilmore can also help you find new opportunities to control your cooling costs, such as by installing a new energy efficient air conditioner. Give Gilmore a call, and we’ll help you find the best way to keep your home cool and comfortable this summer, without breaking the bank!