Want to cool down your house without turning on the AC? 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 a great way to beat the heat, but let’s face it: Even if we’re fortunate to have air conditioning in our home, many of us can’t afford to run it unless we get a second job.
But don’t despair. Here are eight easy, low-cost ways to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient whether or not it has air conditioning.
1 Ventilate when you can. Closely monitor temperatures both inside and out with an indoor/outdoor thermometer (below). When outdoor temperatures are cooler than indoor temps, open up windows and doors to expel the indoor heat and allow the cooler air inside. (Be sure your windows and doors have adequate screens to prevent an influx of bugs.)
If you have operable skylights or transom windows high on walls, be sure to open them to let out super-heated air and create convection currents.
Encourage air circulation by arranging furniture and drapes so they don’t restrict airflow. And to give circulation an additional boost, run your forced-air heating system on “Fan Only.” The furnace blower is relatively inexpensive to run and will get the air moving throughout your home, making temperatures feel lower.
One caveat about ventilating is this: If you live in a humid climate and you’re using air conditioning to lower room temperatures, one of your AC unit’s main jobs is to remove humidity from the air. In humid conditions, ventilating a room allows humidity back into the house, sending comfort out the window.
2 Become 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 stir up breezes. Movement of air increases the evaporation from your skin, which makes you feel considerably cooler.
Box fans, when positioned in windows at night, can suck hot air out of your home and bring in cool air from other open windows.
3 Minimize heat gain. Obviously, your house will feel cooler if the heat can’t get inside in the first place. Close 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, and awnings all work well to prevent solar heat gain. Over the long term, it also pays to plant shade trees and greenery.
4 Reduce indoor humidity to make room air feel cooler. Minimize midday clothes washing and drying, showering, and cooking. When you must do these, turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air.
For more information about reducing humidity, see dehumidifiers.
5Turn off heat-generating lights and appliances unless you absolutely need them. Incandescent lights, in particular, generate more heat than you might think. If possible, switch from incandescents to LED or CFL bulbs.
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.
7 Install 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.
For more, see How to Buy and Apply Window Film.
8 Let 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.)
Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Ceiling Fan Installation Pro