In this column, staff at the Center for EcoTechnology offer advice on easy ways for people — and businesses — to introduce green changes in their daily lives.
Q: My attic always gets so hot. How do I prevent it from heating the rest of the house?
A: The best way to keep hot air from infiltrating your home through your attic is to make sure the attic is insulated and that it has been properly air-sealed.
A professional insulation contractor will be able to seal leaks, as well as insulate the attic. This has the added benefit of keeping heat in your home during the winter, as opposed to letting it escape through the attic.
If you sign up for a home energy assessment through Mass Save, you may also be eligible for assistance with air sealing and insulation costs. Mass Save is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts' gas and electric utilities and energy-efficiency service providers, including the Berkshire Gas Company, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, Liberty Utilities and Unitil.
Q: I never want to cook in the summer, because it makes the house so hot. Do you have any tips for summer cooking?
A: The easiest answer is to try cooking outside on a grill, preferably in some shade. You may be hot briefly, but you won't be heating your house like you would if you were using an oven or stove.
If you do cook inside, consider using a microwave, which is generally more energy-efficient than a convection oven and will not heat up your kitchen.
Finally, if you have a hood above your stove, you can turn it on while cooking to remove heat and humidity from your kitchen.
Q: My air conditioning is great at keeping my house cool, but my electricity bills go through the roof! How can I save money and stay cool?
A: Air conditioners are great at cooling the air, but in the process they use a lot of electricity.
If you use window air conditioning units, put them in specific rooms that you want to cool, and close doors so that you are not inadvertently cooling your entire home.
You can also use window and ceiling fans to cool down, but keep in mind that fans don't cool rooms — they cool people. By carrying warmth away from your body, fans help you stay cool, so make sure you turn fans off when you leave a room.
Also, humidity makes heat feel worse to us, because it makes sweating more difficult. You can remove humidity from your home by running an exhaust fan or a dehumidifier in a closed-off room.
For more tips, check out www.cetonline.org or call 1-413- 445-4556.
Look out for this column every two weeks. Send Go Green questions to GoGreen@cetonline.org.