There are several alternatives to air conditioning for cooling your home. Ventilation is the most energy-efficient means of cooling your home.
The air movement provided by ceiling and windows fans adequately cool rooms. Ceiling fans (rotating counter-clockwise in the summer) push cooler air down creating a breeze under the fan. They don’t actually cool the room, but the breeze helps to cool your body.
Ceiling fans allow thermostats to be set 4-6 degrees higher while still providing a comfortable climate. And they only use as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb.
In warmer climates, whole-ventilation systems may be more suitable. These systems pull outside air in, while pushing warmer air out through ventilation sites. For the maximum benefits, only open doors and windows for rooms that need to be cooled and do not obstruct the fan.
Sealing Your Home
Regardless of whether or not your cooling system (i.e. central air conditioning or heat pump) is labeled as energy efficient, if your home is not properly insulated or the system is too large, you will not see the benefits of the energy saving appliances. Properly sealing and insulating your home typically allows for the installation of smaller, less expensive cooling systems and will help save on energy bills.
Larger systems have shorter periods of cycling on and off and send large blasts of air through larger ducts. This tricks the system into thinking your home is cooler than it really is, which is less energy efficient. Larger systems are also much noisier than smaller properly-sized cooling systems due to the gusts in the large ducts and the constant cycling on and off.
The smaller ducts of the right-sized system pushes cooler air through the ducts at a steady rate, creating a constant temperature, which is more efficient and helps to control humidity levels. The right-sized cooling system makes your home more comfortable, is less expensive to install, requires less maintenance, and will lower your utility bills.