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Keep cool the green way

There is nothing better than South African summer days - the beach, the braai and the blue skies- but keeping your house cool on hot days can become an expensive undertaking. So how do you keep your home cool without breaking the bank?

Air conditioning is a great addition to any home in a warm climate, but cranking it up the whole day will definitely leave a considerable dent in your pocket. But how then do you cool down your home? Here are some tips and tricks to cool down your home more energy efficiently:

- Reduce the cooling load by employing cost-effective conservation measures. Provide effective shade for east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening on hot days.

- Install white window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent.

- Hang tightly woven screens or bamboo shades outside the window during the summer to stop 60 to 80 percent of the sun’s heat from getting to the windows.

- Use fans strategically

Ceiling fans: Make sure your fan is running in the right direction: In the summer, you should feel the breeze from your fan blowing down (you can also use ceiling fans in winter to create an updraft). And remember, ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, so turn it off when you leave the room.

Stand-alone fans: When placed directly in front of you, these fans will, no surprise, help keep you cool. Use a spray bottle to spritz yourself while in front of the fan and you can dramatically change your temperature; as the water evaporates off your skin, your body sheds heat.

DIY wind tunnel: If there's a cool breeze, particularly at night, set one fan facing in on the side of your home receiving the wind, and another facing out on the opposite end of the house. You'll maximize the cooling power of a natural breeze.

- Shut off the lights - While modern lightning, like compact fluorescents and LEDs, are more efficient, incandescent light bulbs can produce as much heat as they do light. It's always a good idea to shut off lights to save energy, but on hot summer days, it’s doubly important to do it so you can keep room temperatures down. The same goes for many electronics. Consider unplugging any device that isn't needed. Even in standby mode, many electronics remain hot.

- Planting trees that provides shade for your home in the summer, but allows sun to reach your home in the winter is also a great way to naturally regulate the temperature inside of your home.


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