Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Keep Cool Without AC (Because It’s Making You Broke)

Baby, it’s hot outside. And like every other summer, people all over are getting back into popsicles and running into movie theatres just to cool off. With this hot weather—which by the way can be delicious, if you take advantage of swimming holes, beaches or public pools—comes a renewed addiction to the air conditioner. But you may want to reconsider blasting your AC in the cars, in your house, and in your workplace (unless you’re working outside, ’cause that breeze is free). It raises your electricity costs by fifty percent.

If you really want to save money this summer, you should unplug your AC. This doesn’t mean you’re going to melt into a steaming puddle of unhappiness. You just need to know the other—cheaper—ways to cool off. We’ll start with your office.

The following is an excerpt from Greening Your Office by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert.

Don’t switch it on; reduce the need for air conditioning by:

Reducing internal heat sources
Most of the energy consumed by conventional light bulbs is released as heat, which is very inefficient. Change your light bulbs to low-energy ones—remove this heat source and reduce your energy bill at the same time.

Most conventional office equipment, from computers to photocopiers, also produces heat when operating, further warming your office air. Switch machines off when not needed, or put them on standby. Consider using the “traffic light system” for your office equipment: red—do not turn off; amber—put on standby; green—turn off.

Shading your windows
Preventing the sun’s rays from entering your office will help prevent the air in your office from warming up. Curtains and blinds inside the office help considerably. However, it is most effective to shade the windows externally by fitting shutters or awnings, which can be put away when not required.

If your office is on the ground floor, consider creating shade by growing plants around, above, and over your windows. There are many fast-growing beautiful plants that will add a new dimension to your office space and be a pleasure to watch throughout the seasons. Ventilating naturally—open the windows!
Experiment with opening various windows to produce a pleasant cooling breeze; on all but the stillest day it is possible to generate natural ventilation.

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