This summer is going to be a hot one! With temperatures on the rise, air conditioners turn on full blast and pools are in heavy use. Did you know climate change is one of the largest contributing factors to the rapid loss in biodiversity, alongside habitat destruction, pollution and poaching? In an effort to help the planet we have rounded up some eco-friendly ways to keep your house, self and pets cool this summer.
Cool Your Home
There’s nothing worse than sticking to your couch from the heat. However, in cooling your home air conditioners let off harmful chemicals into the environment, ironically contributing to global warming. In developed countries the most harmful chemicals, CFCs, are no longer used and others are being phased out in the coming years thanks to the Montreal Protocol. Most air conditioners sold in the U.S. today have few emissions, but can carry sizable carbon footprints from the large amounts of electrical power required to consistently run them.
What to do: When investing in AC, look for the lowest capacity unit that will work with your space. No need for anything big and fancy. It is also worthwhile to invest in something that is energy efficient — it may be more expensive, but it will save you in the long run on your power bills. Lastly, only use your AC when you really need it. Think of the planet!
There are of course eco-friendly ways to keep your home cool without air conditioning! Try some of these sustainable methods:
Keep the Sun Out
Maintaining a cool house is all about keeping the sun out. In a typical home, you will see 30 percent air leakage of hot air into cool areas via the house duct system. Check your Energy Efficiency Score on your own or hire a Home Energy Auditor to find inefficiencies. You may be surprised to learn how much hot air seeps in through your outlets, light fixtures, doors and windows!
Paint your roof. Researchers have found that reflective roof paint can help to keep your house cool, leading to home-energy savings and reduced global warming.
Add insulation. Add dense insulation — such as foam or brown cellulose — into your attic. This will help keep the heat out!
Seal the gaps. Line windows, doors, outlets and other fixtures that may have gaps with weather stripping and caulk as appropriate. You can use the smoke from lit incense to help detect drafts and where they are coming from in your home.
Treat your windows. Keep sunlight and it’s UV radiation out with the use of insulated curtains and/or outside awnings. While insulated curtains are best, just about anything covering the window, from a blanket to a piece of cardboard, can be fairly effective in keeping the heat out. There are also a number of energy efficient films that can be applied to the window to maintain visibility while keeping heat producing solar energy out.
Cool Things Down
In addition to keeping the sun out, there are some simple things you can do to help keep your home cool.
Open windows strategically. Open your windows at night and in the early morning hours when things are cool, but make sure to close everything up before it gets too hot outside.
Turn off electronics. Lights, computers and other electronics let off heat. Turn things off when not in use.
Avoid indoor cooking.Turning on the oven or stovetop can really heat things up inside. Take it outdoors! Summer is a great time to BBQ and enjoy fresh salads, fruits and other raw foods.
Use a fan. You can use a fan to keep you cool, but remember to turn it off if you are not in the room or not near it. Fans don’t actually cool the air, they just move it around. So if you are not there to enjoy it’s wafting, it’s a waste of energy.
Decorate with plants. Certain indoor plants help keep the air around them cool through the energy, or heat, absorbed during photosynthesis. Planting trees and shrubs outdoors can also provide cooling shade and keep sunlight off of your home.
Run appliances at night. Need to do the dishes or a load of laundry? Save it for the cool late hours when the heat can escape into the night.
Sometimes your home’s heat is out of your control and it just sucks. To effectively keep cool in such times you need to turn the focus onto yourself.
Freeze things (food). Summer is a great time to experiment with popsicles and other frozen treats! We love freezing combinations of yogurt, smoothies, fresh fruits & veggies, coconut water and whatever other ingredients you can think up into popsicles.
Freeze things (not food). While enjoying your tasty popsicle, cool off by draping yourself in frozen towels and ice packs. Ahhhh, relief.
Leave your house. Brave the outside world and cool off with activities such as swimming, indoor ice skating or hiding away in an air conditioned coffee shop or movie theater.
Take a cold shower. Sometimes a quick cold shower can really help cool you down! And usually you can’t stand more than just a few minutes, so you shouldn’t waste too much water.
Drink plenty of water. As you are sweating in the summer heat, make sure you are drinking lots of water to replace the fluids you are losing. Aim to drink 10+ cups of water per hot day.
Cool Your Pets
Don’t forget about your furry friends! Many pets, such as cats and dogs, can’t cool themselves through sweating traditionally as humans do. Both sweat through their paws and pant to keep from overheating. On hot days, you’re right to be worried about your pets, particularly if the humidity is high making it harder for them to cool off. Here are some tricks to keep your animal pals comfortable:
Avoid going for walks when it’s too hot. How can you tell if it’s too hot to venture out? Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If it is too hot to leave comfortably for five seconds, it is too hot for a walk.
Always provide shade and water. Cats and dogs stay cool by being inactive, panting, drinking water and staying out of the sun. Making sure your animals have plenty of water and a good patch of shade is essential on a hot day.
Pets like frozen treats too! Frozen treats aren’t just great for you – your dog will love an ice cold pupsicle. Try freezing things like chicken broth, peanut butter or fresh fruits such as bananas, blueberries, watermelon and apples.
Leave your dog at home. While your pup may love running errands with you, on a hot day temperatures in your car can quickly climb to unbearable temperatures of 140 degrees F and above. Even with the windows rolled down on a hot day, cars are often unsuitable for animals to stay in for longer than a few minutes unattended.
Groom for summer. With certain breeds, it may be worthwhile to have your groomer give them a shorter summer cut. This doesn’t mean shaving your animals though! In fact, the layers of fur in your pet’s coat help to protect them from sunburn and overheating. It is recommended to brush often to remove loose hairs and debris.
Always keep an eye out for signs of heatstroke in your pets when the summer is in full force. Watch for heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, extreme lethargy, excessive thirst, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting or a deep red/purple tongue. If you think your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, get them out of the sun and if possible to a cool, air-conditioned area. Apply room temperature water to the fur – make sure it is not ice cold as this causes blood vessels to constrict and retain heat. Allow them to drink small amounts of water and contact your veterinarian.
With a summer of record high forecasts upon us, keeping cool is of the utmost importance. Make sure you do so in a manner that respects the Earth and our animal friends by limiting your carbon emissions. You can further help us protect animals habitats from climate change and other factors by shopping our Cause You Care Endangered Species Collection! Twenty-five percent of profits are donated to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
As a thank you for keeping it cool and sustainable save 10% on our products with the discount code*: SUMMER
*Valid through 7/15/16