As temperatures rise, paying attention to the little things can help you stay cool in your home. Following tips such as opening windows during cool periods of the day, closing windows during hot periods of the day, closing window treatments to prevent solar heat buildup, and planting trees to provide shade are those “little things”. Making an investment in air sealing and insulating your home can also prevent your home from overheating. But if those tried and true methods still aren’t enough to get you through the hottest part of the year, you might consider purchasing “active” cooling equipment.
Ceiling and Room Fans
Ceiling and room fans generally use the least energy of all active cooling options. Although they simply circulate air, that air movement can make you feel up to four degrees cooler. Whole house fans, on the other hand, pull in outdoor air through open windows during the coolest times of the day (morning and/or evenings) in order to both ventilate and cool an entire home. These units tend to use less energy than evaporative coolers and air conditioners and they work well with the large swings in daily temperatures throughout Colorado.
Evaporative coolers generally use less energy than air conditioners, and are well-suited for Colorado because they work best in dry climates. For example, in 100 degree outdoor temperatures with 10% relative humidity, evaporative coolers can deliver 73 degree temperatures inside the home. On the other hand, evaporative coolers use more water and typically require more maintenance than air conditioners.
Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps
Central air conditioners are large enough to cool the entirety of your home, so it is especially important to choose an efficient unit. If it’s important to keep just one or two rooms particularly cool or if you don’t have ductwork in your home, room air conditioners or ductless mini-split heat pumps may be a good fit for you. Heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling quite efficiently.
Whenever you are considering new cooling equipment, ensure that your contractor performs a “Manual J” calculation to determine the proper size of the new equipment. These calculations account for your desired temperature level, maximum outdoor air temperatures in your specific location, how leaky your home is, and how much insulation you have. If you’ve already air sealed and insulated your home well, you may not need a large, expensive piece of cooling equipment to get you through the summer.