Keep cool with less AC

June 21, 2016

How to stay cool and reduce your air conditioning bill

Finally, summer – most people’s favourite season – is here.  But how quickly our weather transitions from pleasant to hot, and we find ourselves turning on the air conditioning!

In many places, more electricity is used on hot summer days than in the cold of winter.  Much of that peak power comes from fossil fuels, and much of it is used for air conditioning.  (Yes, there is a certain irony about that fact.)  So reducing our use of air conditioning is a great way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are four ways to do just that:

  • Install blinds, shades or curtains, and keep them closed when sunlight is most intense. Retractable awnings work well too, and still allow light in.
  • Open windows in the evening to take advantage of overnight coolness; close them before you leave in the morning to keep things cool as long as possible.
  • When air conditioning becomes necessary, nudge the thermostat up a few degrees and invite everyone to dress lightly. (Already this summer, I’ve been chilly in over-conditioned buildings.) Even then, use the AC as sparingly as possible.
  • Longer term: plant trees strategically to provide shade plus free natural cooling; some good advice here. (‘Aha’ fact: exposed dark asphalt gets very hot and heats the surrounding air, so consider planting trees to shade paved areas too.)

Don’t overheat this summer – but by using less air conditioning, you’ll help prevent the planet from overheating.

For fun and food, build a bean tepee

Everyone – kid and former kid – loves a secret place!  So why not build a bean tepee in your backyard?

It’s simple: all you need are a few poles and some string to build a frame – easy instructions here. (Igloos and other creative designs are possible too, depending on how elaborate a frame you’d like to build.)

Then plant some pole bean or pea seeds at the base of each pole and water.  Watch as your plants grow, wind their way up the poles and close in the walls.


Presto: a fun play place for anyone, with the bonus of delicious fresh veggies!

Thanks to Don Ross for this Green Idea!