Keep your home comfortable even on the hottest days using these simple cooling methods.
Is the hot weather cooking you like a Fourth of July burger? Air conditioning is great, but let’s face it: Many of us don’t have it. Or, even if we do, we can’t afford to run it unless we get a second job. Don’t despair. Here are eight ways to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient without much trouble or expense.
1Closely monitor the temperature both inside and out with an indoor/outdoor thermometer. When it is cooler outside, open up windows and doors to ventilate. (Be sure your windows and doors have adequate screens to prevent an influx of bugs.)
And arrange furniture and drapes so they don’t restrict airflow. If you have operable skylights or transom windows high on walls, open them to let out super-heated air and create convection currents. Run your forced-air heating system on “Fan Only” to get the air moving throughout your home.
2Become a fan of fans. Electric fans, ceiling fans, box fans, and whole-house fans can all contribute significantly to cooler temps in your home. Using an electric fan instead of your air conditioner delivers cool air exactly where it is needed, rather than chilling out the entire house.
Ceiling fans pull cool air from the ground to the ceiling, where hot air usually rises and lingers. Box fans, when positioned in windows at night, suck hot air out of your home and bring in cool air from other open windows. Whole-house fans, installed in the attic, work in a similar way, but even more efficiently and powerfully. For more information, see How to Install a Ceiling Fan and Buying a Whole-House Fan.
3Reduce heat gain by closing drapes, shades or blinds, and use shelters to prevent direct sunlight from streaming in through windows on the south- and west-facing sides of the house. Overhangs, patio overheads, latticework, awnings—all of these work well.
4Reduce indoor humidity to make room air feel cooler.Minimize midday washing and drying of clothes, showering, and cooking. When you must do these, turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air, but be sure to turn them off when you’re finished so they don’t extract cooled air from the house. (For more information, see the section on dehumidifiers.)
5Turn off heat-generating lights and appliances unless you absolutely need them. Incandescent lights, in particular, generate more heat than you might think. When it’s time to cook, opt for the barbecue instead of the range.
6Weatherize your home to reduce the loss of conditioned air. Employ caulk and weatherstripping to cut back on the transfer of air around windows and doors.
7Install inexpensive heat-reflecting film on windows that face the sun. This will keep your house cooler and reduce glare and ultraviolet rays that damage furniture and floors. For hot climates, sun-control types are most effective, but be aware that they will also reduce the amount of light that comes in through the windows. In climates where cold seasons are a problem, choose a combination film (but do not apply it to south-facing windows if you want to benefit from the sun’s warmth during winter).
8Let hot air out of your attic (and, hence, your whole house) by installing a ridge vent and possibly roof vents. And let cooler air be drawn in by soffit or eave vents. (For more on ventilation, see Ventilating Your Home and Understanding House Vent Options.)
If you try all of these measures but are still suffering from the heat, maybe it’s time to consider installing a window air conditioner. (See the section on room air conditioners for information on how to select an efficient, high-quality model.)
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