As the heat becomes increasingly relentless this time of year, there are many ways to cool your home without having to blast air conditioning. Although that air conditioning feels nice, it’s not very kind on your wallet. While some solutions can be implemented immediately at no cost, there are others that may require a little more effort and some financial investment. Any changes you make today will not only help you save money on your energy bills in the long-run, but you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the summer by beating the heat inside of your home.
Simple Changes You Can Make Today
- Check furniture and drapery placement. If you are blocking air conditioning vents with either furniture or curtains, then that precious cold air is being wasted. Move furniture around if you can so that all vents are unobstructed. If you simply don’t have the space to rearrange, then consider either closing the vents or purchasing vent deflectors to redirect the air.
- Close your blinds and curtains. It may sound simple, but it could save you up to 7% on your electric bill. Utilizing shades and curtains to block the sun can lower the temperature in your home by up to 20 degrees.
- Strategically close doors. Don’t waste cool air on rooms that you aren’t using. Close doors to bedrooms, bathrooms, and other spaces when they aren’t in use.
- Change sheets and upgrade your pillow. Although flannel and fleece are super comfortable, they certainly aren’t going to feel refreshing at night. Make sure you are using cotton, silk, or satin sheets on your bed so that you don’t overheat while you sleep. Also, you may want to consider buying a buckwheat pillow. The buckwheat hulls naturally allow air to flow through while you sleep, keeping them much cooler than traditional pillows.
- Do some grilling. Gas ranges are great for cooking, but not so great for keeping your house cool. Avoid the heat generated by your range and oven and grill your dinner outside instead.
- Save the steam for after dark. Steam creates humidity, and humidity makes your home feel hot. To avoid making your house humid during the heat of the day, run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when the sun goes down. Also save those steamy showers for after dark.
- Turn on exhaust fans. If you do have to cook or take a shower during the day, make sure you turn on your exhaust fans to extract that hot, humid air out of your house.
- Let the night air in. So long as it won’t kill your allergies, open your windows at night. The stuffy daytime heat often gets trapped inside your house, lingering while you sleep. Opening windows will let all that hot air out and some cooler air in.
More Permanent Solutions
- Change to Compact Florescent Lamps (CFLs) or Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Both CFLs and LEDs last longer than incandescent bulbs and they put out 30-50% less heat. They also cost less to run, saving you money in the long-run and making them better for the environment.
- Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are a great way to generate much-needed airflow in your home during the summer. Make sure they are set to rotate counter-clockwise while it’s hot outside. To maximize their effect, try filling a bowl with ice and positioning it directly in the path of your fan. The chilly air will get pulled off the ice for an extra Arctic-like breeze.
- Apply window films. Window films are inexpensive and easy to install yourself. Even though most are completely unnoticeable, they can block up to 60% of the heat that wants to come in through your windows. They also protect furniture and draperies by blocking harmful UV rays.
- Improve caulking and weather-stripping. Even if you aren’t handy yourself, it pays to have someone come in to caulk and weather-strip your home. It will save you money year-round.
- Add a cold air return. If you have a basement, make use of that chilly air by having an HVAC professional install a cold air return down there. Then when you turn on “fan only,” you’ll be naturally cooling your home by recycling that basement air.
- Put in a whole-house attic fan. An attic fan can reduce temperatures in your attic by up to 50 degrees, which translates to a 10-degree drop in the temperature inside your home.
- Invest in energy-efficient windows. Although replacing windows may seem like a huge expenditure, any windows over 20 to 30 years old are due to be replaced anyway. Energy-efficient vinyl windows can equal significant savings on your energy bill, and just like weather-stripping, they will keep those outdoor temperatures out of your home – and your heat and air conditioning in – year round.
- Utilize dehumidifiers. Briefly mentioned above, the more humidity in your home, the hotter it feels. Consider installing a whole-home dehumidifier in your home to keep moisture levels low. As an added bonus, many come as units combined with air conditioners.
- Lighten the color of your roof. Darkly-colored roofs soak in the sun’s heat, literally heating up your entire home. Lighter colors will help reflect all that warmth during the long summer months.
- Insulate your home. Insulation will help you save 10-50% on energy bills all year long. Keep in mind when you are looking to upgrade that insulation is measured by an R-value – the higher the value, the better the insulation.
- Create shade. Awnings, porches, and pergolas all help create shade for your home. If those aren’t enough, try planting some fast-growing shade trees for even more natural cooling.
From closing doors and opening windows to changing light bulbs and planting trees, there are a plethora of options out there for cooling your home without cranking up the air conditioning. Many of them will reduce heat and help you save money on your energy bills, too. See what you can do to create your own oasis in your home today!