Eco-unfriendly Styrofoam coolers give me the “chills!”

Summer is in full swing and sadly, to me, it feels like it’s half over.  I always consider summer a brief 10 week experience (now that we have kids in school), but that’s my own issue.

cooler-foamAnyhow, while I’ve been out and about with my family enjoying the “first half”, one thing keeps catching my eye… Styrofoam coolers.  I almost can’t believe that these things still exist.  I understand that they are a matter of convenience, but with some forethought, it’s easy to be prepared and no one should ever need a ‘single use’ cooler. It pains me to see them sitting next to garbage cans and knowing that they’ve become trash.  And I imagine that after purchasing a few Styrofoam versions, you could probably own a decent cooler of your very own.

My mom actually taught me the amazing insulating ability of newspaper.  Layers of newspaper, wrapped around whatever you need to keep cold in transit, does an incredible job of holding the cold.  This newstrick even works to keep items hot.  I used newspaper to keep our kids’ baby food warm when we went out to dinner, so they could have their food right along with us.  And the best part is that afterward, it can be recycled instead of thrown in the trash.

I just really want Styrofoam coolers to disappear! The problem is this… even if they disappear from store shelves, they still won’t disappear – they’ll live on in a landfill for about 500 years!

Air conditioning vs. fresh air: 10 ways to “keep our cool”.

At the start of every summer, as the temperature rises, my husband and I seem to have the same discussion… when to turn on the air conditioning!

therm-risingThis is never an easy discussion (okay! read: argument!) as this is the man who wears shorts and t-shirts around the house when it is 19 degrees outside in the dead of winter.

I prefer the open windows and doors, and want to breathe the fresh air.  To this my husband responds “Babe, it ceases to be fresh as soon as it’s 86 degrees with 70% humidity!”  Well, it’s still fresh but I guess it does cease to be RE-freshing!

Just like heating your house in the winter and whether you do or don’t choose to crank the AC, there are ways to keep your house cooler, stop some of the cool air loss and use less energy in the process:

  • Close blinds or curtains in various windows throughout the day to prevent the sun shining in.  If it’s coming in, so is the heat.
  • Use ceiling fans. They circulate the cool air and don’t use a lot of energy.
  • Program your thermostat.  No need to keep it blasting in the evening or when you aren’t even home.
  • When it’s cool outside at night, shut off the air, open the windows and take advantage.ceil-fan
  • 74 degrees is all you need.  This is a bearable temperature, and if you can tolerate it higher, do it!  Each degree saves 3-4% on your cooling expenses.
  • Don’t worry about unused rooms.  Close the windows, doors and vents in these rooms, and block the bottom of the door if they aren’t frequently occupied.
  • Run appliances at night.  This includes dryers & dish washers that give off heat. Avoid using your oven… give it a rest and grill instead!  And if you do use the stovetop, be sure to use the exhaust fan to take away the heat.
  • Turn off unneeded lights, TVs, computers, etc. when you aren’t using them.  They all generate heat too.
  • Keep heat generating appliances away from the thermostat (TVs, lamps, etc.).  They’ll make the thermostat think it’s hotter than it really is.
  • Don’t chop down trees that shade your house.  They simply keep a house cooler.  And even plant strategically.  Shaded AC units run more efficiently, but just be sure not to block the airflow.

I do try to take my own advice.  It’s not always easy (living with my husband who compensates by turning up the ceiling fans to “jet speed”) but it’s a compromise we always seem to manage when it all “boils down”!