Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Home Cool

(Family Features)When it's hot outside, heat can seep into your home and make it unbearable. However, there are sustainable, eco-friendly solutions to maximize comfort and cooling when the thermometer creeps upward without racking up an outrageous electric bill or large carbon footprint.

While some options for keeping your home cool involve an upfront investment, over time they'll save money, and the environment, for years to come. If you're looking for ways to cool your home during even the hottest days, consider these ideas from the experts at Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.

Adjust Ceiling Fans

Installing ceiling fans in your home can help keep temperatures moderate and cut down on your cooling bill. For best results, those ceiling fans should be adjusted seasonally. During warm weather months, fans should rotate counterclockwise at a higher speed to push air downward instead of up toward the ceiling, which can lead to a more comfortable temperature in your home.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home's climate control is lacking, it may be time to invest in a new HVAC system - particularly if your current one is more than 15 years old. An energy-efficient option like Mitsubishi Electric's sleek and modern MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette is designed for easy installation and saves energy by monitoring room conditions to make automatic adjustments to maintain the temperature you choose. To improve your indoor air quality, the MLZ uses reusable air filters, which are easy to remove, wash and reinstall. In Dry mode, the unit makes the air feel fresher by removing excess moisture.

Additionally, these ceiling cassettes can be programmed to operate around your life using a remote control, smartphone or tablet. Whether gone for the day or on an extended vacation, you can monitor your system from an app, ensuring you won't return to a home that's blazing hot.

Reduce Incoming Sunlight During the Day

Direct sunlight coming into your home through windows, doors or skylights can increase the temperature. To help reduce unwanted heat as the sun rises higher during the day, consider closing your blinds or installing light-colored blinds that reflect rather than absorb the sun's heat. Other options such as blackout curtains or reflective window panels can have the same effect, helping reduce warmth trapped inside.

If closing all your blinds or covering every window isn't an option or makes you feel claustrophobic, focus on any south- or west-facing rooms in your home, as these are typically the trickiest to keep cool during the warmest hours of the day - usually from late morning until early evening. Exterior window shades and awnings can also be useful options if you're looking to reduce the amount of heat that enters your home, but still want to take advantage of the natural light.

Change Your Light Bulbs

Since warmer weather also equates to more sunshine, turning off the incandescent lights in your house when possible can cut down on extra heat and save on your energy bill. Though the soft yellow glow of incandescent light bulbs can create a nice ambiance, it also gives off a lot of heat. Swapping out those old light bulbs for more efficient, LED bulbs can cut down on the amount of heat your light fixtures emit. If you can't replace them, minimizing their usage - particularly when having a light on in a room is unnecessary - can make a difference.

Strategically Plant Trees and Shrubs

Planting trees or shrubs near sunlight-facing windows can make a big difference when it comes to the temperature inside your home by shielding the sun's rays. While planting trees strategically around your home is more of a long-term plan, the benefits can also last for many years to come in terms of shade, added curb appeal and overall betterment of the earth.

Start by focusing on west-facing walls, where the sun is typically the strongest. Choosing trees native to your area can decrease maintenance, and those that bloom in spring and drop leaves in the fall offer year-round benefits by providing both shade and heat in accordance with the season. Vines and other tall shrubs are options for quicker results, but they may also require more long-term maintenance.

Reduce Appliance Usage

To help minimize running appliances and equipment that generate a lot of heat, like stoves and ovens, choose to cook outdoors or opt for quicker meals you can prepare using the microwave, which doesn't heat the house to the same extent. While grilling and eating outside more frequently may require an awning or gazebo to stay cooler, it can beat the alternative of warming up your oven, and ultimately your home, for an extended period of time.

Reducing your usage of other heat-producing appliances such as computers, dishwashers, clothes dryers, curling irons and hair dryers can also help keep interior temperatures comfortable and energy use low. Try using these appliances earlier in the day to minimize the extra load placed on your air conditioner.

Keeping cool during warm weather months doesn't have to be complicated. Take advantage of these measures to reduce your home's heat load and energy bill. Find more tips for cooling your home at mitsubishicomfort.com.