Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Surviving the Heat without AC

heatIf you have issues with hot summer days, then we have something in common. Personally, I’d take the biting chill of winter over the enveloping heat of summer any day. But since humans don’t yet have control over external temperatures (what’s taking you so long, scientists?) we all have to deal with those extra hot days. The fatigue, sweat, and general discomfort caused by heat can make people like me run for the AC, even in a city like Seattle, where temperatures rarely reach high levels. Unfortunately, air conditioning uses up a lot of energy to be so effective. The good news is, there may be other ways to keep your space cool without resorting to the powers of generated indoor breeze. Options for homeowners include:

Install Awningsawning

Awnings can reduce the amount of heat brought in by sunlight by as much as 65% on windows with southern exposures and 77% on windows with western exposures.

ivyPlant Vines

Though you should probably do some research first to determine if ivy would be harmful to the kind of siding on your house, vines can do a great job of keeping buildings cool, shading walls from the sun and cooling through evapotranspiration, the combination of evaporation and plant transpiration traveling from the earth’s surface to the atmosphere. Vines can also help to keep a house warm during winter, reducing wind chill and your potential need to run the heater. As a bonus, ivy can absorb pollutants and provide a home for birds and insects. Also, it looks wicked cool. Like a beard for your house.

Plant a tree

Though this one may take a while, a shady tree blocking sunlight during the summer months can be plenty effective, just like sitting underneath one outside. And if you have the space to plant a tree, why wouldn’t you? Trees are awesome. Win-win-win.

Install a Ceiling Fan

Perhaps the most common alternative to air conditioning, these don’t use as much energy as AC, and don’t waste as much either, keeping those under it cool instead of the whole room, with its many unoccupied spaces.


Exterior Blinds can stop sunrays before they make their way into your house, greatly lessening their effect.

For those of us living the apartment life, options for keeping things cool the green way aren’t as diverse. But we can still help ourselves out by having a fan or two, drinking lots of liquid, and making sure to relax when we can (a good excuse to do nothing for a bit, no?). Do you have any other methods for staying cool? Feel free to share the various ways you overcome summer heat waves below.

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