Maybe the best home energy savings investment you can make
Nobody likes waste. But if you spend a lot of money on electricity to run your home air conditioner, you are most definitely wasting money and unnecessarily contributing to global warming. That's because much of the electricity in the US is generated by coal. Looking at US Department of Energy figures, the average kW generated in the US creates about 1.36 pounds of CO2 emissions.
It's all about using the least amount of energy for the task at hand
Using the least possible energy for a given purpose is more than green, it's just plain sensible. Use what you need to get the job done, but no more than necessary. In any system design, this is a core engineering principle.
You need electric light in your house. Why would you use an old incandescent 60W bulb, when you can use a new 12W CFL bulb to provide the same light (and much less heat) using 80% less energy? This same principle applies to home cooling. Why would you run an air conditioner that may use 3000 Watts or more, when you could use a whole house fan to accomplish the same task and use 170 Watts or less?
Natural cooling is an important opportunity to reduce your home energy use
There are lots of ways that you can be a more efficient user of electricity around your home. In the charts below we compare an AirScape fan with two popular energy-saving ideas: CFL bulbs on one hand and a solar system on the other, comparing not just energy and CO2 emission savings, but also the financial cost of those savings. Bear in mind that this requires a lot of assumptions on variables that are, well, widely variable. So you should consider this simply an example rather than some predictive model for your situation. This data is based on our experience with a California home that has implemented all three technologies. Here's the results distilled into three charts:
A final word about solar and being green
We don't mean to imply that solar is a bad idea—it's a great idea. It's green and clean, and the more solar power we generate, the better off the planet will be. But it is still expensive and doesn't have as impressive an ROI as other options. However, with rebate programs rising and prices dropping every year, that's changing. We always urge everyone we know to install a solar system if they can afford it.
Of course, we also urge everyone we know to install a whole house fan, which is a lot more affordable, has a more compelling financial case and is a great under-appreciated way to be a savvy electricity consumer, and a little greener.