WITH SUMMER FAST APPROACHING, now is the time to start thinking about how best to cool your home. Don’t wait until a repeat of the 2011 heat wave, in which one 103-degree July day was the hottest in 85 years and finding a fan or air conditioner for sale was about as likely as having lunch at Locke-Ober with Bigfoot.
Fans and air conditioning do put more stress on the environment, increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and, in the case of most ACs made before 2010, depleting the ozone layer. But with appliance efficiency on the rise and homes better insulated than ever, the amount of energy consumed in this country for cooling, as well as heating, has actually decreased in the past decade — even while the number of houses nationwide with central or room air conditioners has climbed to almost 90 percent. You can cut your home’s need for mechanical cooling systems, but if you’ve tried all of the most environmentally friendly options and found they’re just not doing the job, here’s what you need to know before taking the next step.