For a less environmentally destructive way than air-conditioning to stay comfortable in the heat, choose a portable or ceiling fan. Fans use 90% less energy than central air, and make rooms feel seven to ten degrees cooler because of the process of evaporation.
Sure, central air feels great, and, yes, it can help save the lives of the elderly or frail, who are sensitive to high heat. But it is also extremely energy intensive, and still typically relies on ozone-damaging fluorocarbons. Central air-conditioning is also prohibitively expensive for many who live in old structures or who are on tight budgets.
The best choice is an Energy Star-rated fan. Those ceiling fan/light combination units that receive the federal designation are about 50 percent more efficient than conventional models and will save you $15 to $20 per year on your utility bills. See a list of thirty companies that offer them here.
Most modern ceiling fans can also be run in reverse when it's cold, pushing warm air down from high spaces. Learn more here.
Don't forget to turn your fans off when you aren't using them.
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