If you are dreading another summer without home air conditioning, there are easy and affordable ways to beat the heat. Collectively, Americans spend over $15 billion yearly on air conditioning, creating more than 140 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Air conditioning drains your wallet and warms the air outside your house where the hot air filters out, making for a rather short-sighted solution.
Windows allow more than 30% of unwanted heat into your home. Shades and curtains save up to seven percent on energy bills and can lower inside temperatures by as much as 20 degrees. Blinds help keep your home from feeling like a greenhouse, and blackout shades insulate your windows naturally. If your room feels too dark with the windows covered, lower the top of the shade about six inches to let the light in but keep the heat out. Consumer Reports states that neutral-colored curtains with white plastic backing reduce the amount of heat entering your home by 33%. Window tint film is easy to install and effective. As a long-term improvement, install double-pane windows.
Temperatures generally cool off at night, so make the most of the refreshing air. Open the windows and cool rooms with a wind tunnel. Strategically place fans near or in windows to create a cross breeze. During the day, close the windows and follow best practices for the most effective daytime cooling.
Another clever way to cool your home is with a fan and a wet sheet. Open the top of the window on the downwind side of your home. Open the bottom section on the upwind side – the side from which the breeze is coming. Place a box fan in one window to push the hot air out. Wet a sheet and hang it in front of the second open window. This strategy helps to bring chillier air into the house.
Install an awning or shade outside your windows. Awnings are affordable and can add character and style to your home’s exterior. Hood and solid aluminum awnings are the best. Fixed steel or metal hoods are user-friendly and impervious to wind. Awnings made with hurricane fabric are lightweight and ideal if you live in a locale where stormy weather often occurs. Louvered Bermuda or plantation shades are hinged at the top and rotate 170 degrees to provide shade from the sun as it moves through the day. Roller awnings are motorized, retract in a minute and operate by remote control.
Relax and eat meals outdoors on your patio, deck, balcony or at a nearby picnic table to help you feel cooler. Seventy-two percent of U.S. households have a grill. There are numerous types to choose from depending on the available space. You can choose a standard charcoal grill or a small portable kettle grill. Pellet grills are a versatile choice with smoker and grill capabilities. Gas and propane grills preheat in the shortest amount of time. An indoor/outdoor electric bistro or charcoal patio grill is appropriate if you own or rent a townhome, apartment or have a petite backyard.
Your ceiling fans require a seasonal adjustment for optimal performance. That little switch on the fan's base, the one you perhaps always wondered about, changes the direction of air flow in the room. In the summer, set the switch for a faster counter-clockwise movement. This movement forces air down, which increases evaporation and creates a breezy, wind-chill airflow in the room.
You can help keep your home and the community cooler by planting trees around on your property. Trees not only provide shade, but they act as natural air conditioning for the environment. How is this possible? Trees slowly evaporate water from their leaves which removes heat from the surrounding area. One mature tree has the same cooling impact as ten air conditioners running for 20 hours a day.
Lightbulbs, even environmentally friendly CFLs, give off heat. The surface temperature on a standard lightbulb can reach up to 250 degrees. Ninety percent of the energy generated by an incandescent bulb is discharged as heat. Just one of these lights in a small room can increase the temperature by 11 degrees. Energy-efficient LED lights have a much lower surface temperature at 100 degrees. Summer days stay lighter longer, so take advantage of the natural light as much as possible.
Everything that’s plugged into a socket produces heat. Even those little red “off” lights drain energy and produce heat. Turning off is not enough. Unplug your television, chargers, portable vacuum and wireless phones. To save time, use power strips to unplug several heat-producing devices all at once. Some power strips have motion sensors that shut off everything automatically when you leave the room. Others feature a master control you can direct by remote control.
Perhaps your house is cool, but you still feel hot. Feeling overheated can make it hard to sleep. Dress your bed in cotton, microfiber or temperature-regulated bamboo viscose sheets; these breathable sheets help promote ventilation and airflow. You can apply ice packs or cold compresses to pressure points such as a wrist, your neck, inside an elbow, on your ankles or behind your knees for a quick cool-down. Add chilly freshness to your pillow with a high-tech pad that cools through water circulation. Take a cold shower to reduce your core temperature and eat a light dinner before going to bed. Your body produces more heat digesting and metabolizing a heavy meal.