When it is hot outside, and that heat seeps into your home, it is hard to muster up the motivation to do just about anything. So are you supposed to languish in the summer months and blankly stare at the TV while sweat drips down your forhead? Of course not! If you have air conditioning, you can always blast it and create a nice wintry environment for yourself. But that uses a lot of energy and escalates the electric bill. Plus, the artificial chill just feels wrong when it is so warm outside. Isn't there a way to find a happy medium and be comfortable while still feeling like it is summer out there? Of course there is!
Below you will find tips to keep your house cooler when the thermostat creeps up and up, ways to make your A/C use more efficient, as well as what you can do to keep your own person more comfortable.
Windows / Blinds
Open windows at night. During times of the year where it substantially cools at night (overnight temperatures in the mid-70s or lower), pop the window open once the sun goes down. You will be amazed at how quickly the warm air is replaced with cool, refreshing air.
Better yet, utilize fans (or a whole house fan if you have one) to create tunnels of cool air coming into your home. To get the most out of your efforts with this method, crack a window on the mail floor of the house, while widely opening a window on the second floor on the opposite side of the home, with a fan in that room forcing air out. Since heat rises, you will more quickly get the hot air out and cool air in.
Keep blinds closed during the day. Up to 30% of unwanted heat in your home is coming through your windows via the greenhouse effect - sunlight and heat enter, but cannot escape. The remedy is to keep your blinds closed during the day. If this makes your home feel too much like a cave, focus especially on west- and south-facing windows. Doing this can actually lower the mid-day temperature of your home by almost 20 degrees.
To makes this action even more efficient, get light-colored blinds that will reflect rather than absorb the sun's heat, and open them again at night when it is cool. You can even place cardboard in the windows to further block heat from entering.
As previous discussed, windows are one of the biggest sources of unwanted heat in the home. The other biggest violator is appliances. The obvious is the oven, but all appliances throw off a lot of heat when running. Below are tips that will mitigate their heat output.
Do chores at night. Laundry machines throw off a lot of heat. The washer is running hot water, and driers are obviously using heated air which escapes and radiates out from the machine. You can not get away from having to do laundry, but you can ensure it is not heating your home during the hottest part of the day. Do your laundry loads at night to keep things cooler. Also, regularly clean the dryer vent for a quicker cycle.
Your dishwasher also puts out a lot of heat. Like with the laundry, run it at night to minimize the heating effect. If you have a quiet model, start it before you go to bed.
Skip the oven/stove and grill more. Any usage of the oven or even the stove-top is going to heat your home. Dust off the grill! You can grill many of the things you would be making in an oven or on the stovetop.
If you do use the stove, make sure to turn the fan on, especially if it vents to the exterior. If it just recirculates air, it won't cool things much, but it will at least improve airflow.
Keep the furnace fan ON. Most thermostats allow you to manually turn the fan on that blows hot air through your home in the winter. In the summer, that fan can be run on its own to circulate and more evenly distribute the coller air from the basement or main level. It also acts as another way to keep the air flowing and moving, which makes you feel cooler.
Maximize your air conditioner. If you have A/C, the smoother and more efficient it runs, the better it will cool your house when called upon to do so. Installing a programmable thermostat can help this process, rather than you fiddling with the temperature every morning and evening. Summer temperature recommendations are as follows:
- 75 degrees, +/- 1-2 degrees, during hours you are home (the warmer the setting, the more energy effecient. Energy.gov recommends 78 degrees.
- 80 degrees, +/- 1-2 degrees, during hours you are away from home.
- Sleeping: it is well-researched that people sleep better when it is cooler. If there is a time to crank the A/C a little bit, the overnight hours might supprisingly offer the most bang for the buck. Experiment with a few differest temperature settings to see how you feel in the morning, and go from there.
These temperatures will feel very warm at first, but after a week or two, your body will adjust and you will get comfortable again. So don't deviate too much from these recommendations until you have tried it out for a full week or so.
Change your A/C filters regularly. Every 4 to 6 weeks, especially during the months of heaviest use. Change out your air filters if you have an air conditioner, and check them more frequently if you are running the furnace fan. A dirty filter not only reduces air quality, but also reduces efficiency of airflow. Know your filter size and always have a few on hand.
Part 2 of the series - How to Keep Your House Cool (Without Cranking the A/C) will be posted on July 11, 2018.
As usual, should you be interested in buying or selling a home, or for any further information regarding your home, please contact me, Karen Borden, your North Alabama Real Estate Professional!