Posted on Jul 5th 2023
The sun is out, and all that summer sunshine is excellent for solar panels. The summer heat, however, may be doing a number on your energy goals. Air conditioning units are energy-intensive appliances. If they run throughout the day, they can drain the energy gains your solar panels provide. It is possible to take some steps to help cool your home before turning to the AC. Here are some options for cooling your home while maintaining energy efficiency, brought to you by our experts at Custom Energy.
In the early morning, open some windows while the air outside is still cool. This simple step will use the difference in air density between the air within and outside the home. The warm air within your home will be less dense than the cool outside air. The warmer, less dense air will be drawn out of the open windows. This creates a natural draft. As a bonus, this draft will also clear the stuffy air from your home and replace it with fresh morning air. Not a bad start to the day!
Once the temperature outside has risen, a more strategic approach to opening windows or doors will be necessary to encourage the same cooling effect. Using the same understanding of air density, once the air outside is warmer than the air within the home, that warmer air will be drawn inside. Closing windows at this point is a good option. However, if you'd like to keep a draft moving through the home, this is an excellent time to use box fans to encourage the airflow to circulate through and out of the house.
Box fans use less power to run than an AC unit. One box fan in a window blowing air into the room and another fan across the room blowing air out of another window or door will create that cross draft that helps keep things cool. Ceiling fans can help circulate air too. Box fans are a great option if you don't have ceiling fans installed. You may also consider having ceiling fans installed in the future.
Shade is another helpful tool that can be used to cool the home before turning to air conditioning. One example of using shade to cool the home can be as simple as keeping blinds and curtains closed to shade the interior from sunlight. Keeping the sunlight out also means keeping much of the heat out.
Awnings above windows will also shade the home and aid in keeping things cool. It is even possible to use solar panels as awnings above windows to simultaneously collect that valuable light and provide shade for the house. Solar power panels create shade for the home when located on the roof and therefore help reduce internal temperatures.
Landscaping is another area where you can think strategically about using shade to cool the home. Do you have trees that provide shade to your home? Is there a location where such a tree could be planted? Long-term solutions like planting a shade tree may take time to get established, but those solutions will bring a return year after year.
How well-insulated your home is critical in maintaining an ideal temperature. This is not only the case in the winter but also in the summer when you want to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. Good insulation is a valuable addition to any home. Insulating your home is another solution with many benefits that exceed simply keeping things cool.
This time of year, cleaning and maintaining your solar panels is important. Cleaning the panels will ensure they continue to operate effectively. If the panels are coated in pollen or dust, they will collect less light and produce far less power. After you've taken all the steps you can to cool your home without AC, you can still use your air conditioner efficiently.
To get the most out of your air conditioning unit, use it to cool only a small portion of the home or limit the time the AC is on. Running the AC during the hottest part of the day for a short time will create the most significant cooling effect while using a limited amount of energy.
You can do many things to ensure your solar panels operate their best this summer. If you haven't yet taken the plunge to get solar panels, contact Custom Energy today to get started!