Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

June 18, 2006

Hot Day, Cool House

Category: Conservation,Household,Save Electricity,Save Fuel,Take Actions,Tips – Tom Harrison – 4:06 pm

It’s over 90 degrees here in Boston today. Air conditioners are humming all around, but our house is quiet and cool. OK, this is partly because I have not yet installed the window air conditioners we use when it gets really hot. But it’s mostly because of a few, simple, obvious things we do. I’ll start from the top:

  • Attic Fan
  • Insulated Attic
  • Vented Attic
  • Close the windows
  • Double-insulated windows
  • Low-E windows
  • Insulated walls
  • Blinds and curtains drawn
  • Ceiling fan in bedroom
  • Cool shower, bathroom exhaust on
  • Avoid cooking, use the exhaust fan
  • Ceiling fan in kitchen
  • Cool drinks
  • Whole house fan if cool in the evening
  • Use the basement to cool down
  • And above all, never install air conditioners on a very hot day

And even though it’s afternoon and the sun is beating down, the house is a pleasant 75 degrees. And quiet.

I know it sounds silly, but one thing we did recently makes a huge difference. We have a sun room, which I am in now. It has it’s own roof, and it turns out when they insulated the house, they did not insulate the enclosed attic area of the sun room. So when we replaced our gutters, our excellent carpenter Ed suggested we blow in some cellulose. This room would get sweltering in prior years (and freezing in the winter); now it’s just a little warmer than the rest of the house. What a difference this small change makes.

Yes, we’ll use our air conditioner on a few really hot days this summer. Assuming I get the courage to actually install the beasts :-)


  1. What’s the reason for not installing air conditioners on a very hot day?

    Comment by Jennifer Grucza — June 23, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

  2. Jennifer —

    Our air conditioners weigh roughly six thousand pounds each. They are stored in the most inaccessible locations, and the one for the second floor is stored in the attic. So on a hot day, when no air conditioners are installed yet, you go to the attic (which is hot enough to boil water) and wrestle the behemoth down the narrow stairs.

    At best, it is a sweaty job.

    Then, it’s just a matter of maneuvering the beast into the window … without harming yourself or others (while I am concerned that I could kill a small child that happened to be in the wrong place when I mistakenly drop the A/C unit out the window, the more real concern is that I’ll wrench my back and walk around hobbled for several weeks, which has happened twice in the last four years).

    Once installed, you get a brief respite of breathing cool air … until it’s time to put in the other one.

    So my major dilemma is how to motivate myself on a cool day in order to avoid the extra discomfort that occurs on a warm day. So far, my wife is the main motivator, and she tends to be motivated when it’s hot outside.

    Asked and answered :-)

    Comment by Tom Harrison — June 28, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

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