How To Keep Your House Cool In The Summer
When the temperatures rise many of us turn the temperatures down on our air conditioners in order to beat the heat. However, this is exactly the wrong thing to do to keep your house cool during the summer. In order to help save energy, not strain your air conditioning unit, and keep you feeling refreshed we have put together some tips to help keep your house cool in the summer heat.
1. Close the curtains or shutters when your windows are in direct sunlight.
As the sunlight comes into our homes it heats the air in our houses. This increases the temperature of the room and changes the air from short wave infrared radiation to long wave infrared radiation. The long wave infrared red-radiation, created from the short wavelengths of visible light from the sun, is not able to travel through the glass. Therefore, the heat is trapped, and this causes our rooms to heat up. Blocking the sun from entering rooms helps to keep the heat out to begin with.
In Europe, where very small percentages of the population have air conditioners, the technique of closing and opening shutters, as the sun moves during the day is the primary way houses and apartments are kept cooler. By doing this, temperatures can be 3-5 degrees cooler than if the sunshine is able to come directly through the windows.
If you are at work all day, close the curtains or shutters before you leave for work in the morning. Doing so will help keep your house cooler. It also eases the demand on your air conditioning unit and your wallet.
2. Turn off the vents and close the doors to rooms you aren’t using.
Close the vents and doors of rooms and bathrooms you don’t use. This gives your air conditioner, and your energy bills a break. Why pay to cool spaces you are not using? Not only is it not energy efficient but it also puts more strain on air conditioners and the electric grid. When you need the room open the vent and door to those closed spaces. Within a few hours they will be as cool as the rest of the house.
If you have drafty doors try using door draft stoppers at the bottom of the door to help keep the heat from coming in. These are also a great solution for the winter weather to keep the cold air out. Draft stoppers are available as sweeps that mount to the door, foam pieces that fit under the door and block both inside and out, or as fabric tubes that sit up against the door and can be removed in fall and spring.
3. Avoid using your oven.
Turning on the oven to cook during the summer can increase the heat in your kitchen, especially if it is a gas oven. Try cooking with a grill outside, a slow cooker inside, or better yet, find cooling foods you enjoy like gazpacho, ceviche, and salads. In the event that you do have to use your oven try cooking a few things at one time in order to avoid turning the oven on again. If you can’t avoid using the oven during the summer, try a toaster oven or countertop convection oven to do the job. While they still create heat it is much less than what your oven creates.
4. Use fans to help keep air circulating and cool.
Fans are very inexpensive to use and while fans don’t cool the air, the air movement helps us to feel cooler. If you have ceiling fans installed, use them on the counterclockwise setting at high speed to help create a breeze and pull the cool air upwards. Using fans in your rooms, standing fans, tabletop, or ceiling fans, help the air to circulate around the room, helping to keep you cool. This is especially helpful at night.
5. Add plants to your home.
Due to transpiration plants will often release excess water into the air through their leaves. This helps them to cool down and to cool down the air in our homes. Even though plants will not dramatically drop the temperature in our homes every little bit helps. They also help clean and purify our air and look beautiful. House Beautiful has a great guide to which plants help the most to keep your house cool in the summer.
6. Buy energy saving light bulbs.
Incandescent light bulbs produce a lot of heat and raise the cost of your energy bill. By switching to energy efficient bulbs, you keep the heat down in your rooms, and save on energy costs. LED are the best light bulbs to buy, not just for heat but also for your energy bill.
7. Open doors and windows at night when/if the temperatures fall.
If the temperature outside drops below the temperature inside of your house open windows and doors, where it is safe, in order to keep your house cool. Allowing the cool air into the house helps to keep it cool and gives your air conditioner and your utility bills a break. In the morning before the temperatures rise, close your windows and doors to help keep the cool air inside. (Opening your windows also helps keep your indoor air quality higher.)
8. Use dehumidifiers.
While dehumidifiers do not directly cool a room, they do help remove humidity which makes the room feel warmer. Using a dehumidifier in the summer can give the feeling of a room being cooler and helps remove allergens in the air and prevent mildew and mold from growing.
9. Exhaust the hot air out of your home.
Use your kitchen and bathroom fans to help pull heat and humidity out of your house and vent it outside. When the air outside begins to cool, open windows and doors and use a fan in one or two rooms to help move the hot air out and pull cool air into other rooms. This can help cool your rooms down much quickly.
10. Seal doors and windows.
It is just as important in summer as it is in winter to make sure our doors and windows are sealed properly. Sealing doors and windows can keep the heat from entering the house and help your house keep cool in the summer. Visit your local home improvement center and ask for products that can help seal your doors and windows year-round.
11. Unplug unnecessary appliances.
Plugged in appliances can create measurable increases in heat in your house. Therefore, if you are not using appliances and electronics keep them unplugged to help keep your house cool in the summer. Electronics such as computers, TV’s, kettles, and toaster ovens can all increase heat in your house. So, if you aren’t using them, keep them unplugged, and your lights and lamps turned off.
12. Plant flowers, trees, and bushes along your home’s exterior.
The traditional landscape of planting bushes, shrubs, and flowers along the foundation of our homes is for a good reason. Plants and shrubs help to keep the heat from warming the exterior walls if you have a brick, stone or stucco house. The plants can help provide shade and prohibit the sun from heating up the stone, brick or stucco of your house which then heats up the inside of your house. It is also great for the environment to have more plants and can help with erosion and drainage as well.
13. Use big appliances at night when it is cooler outside.
Running your washing machine, dryer and dishwasher at night can help save on electricity and help keep your house cool in the summer. These appliances create heat when in use so it is better to use them when the temperatures are lower outside. Even better, if possible, hang your clothes outside and skip the dryer all together in the summer.
Longer Term Options:
1. Plant shade trees.
Shading your home will always help keep it cooler in the summer. It will also help make your outdoor living spaces more tolerable in the summer months. Just be careful how close you plant trees to your home to make sure not to affect the foundation in the future.
2. Install awnings or build pergolas that provide shade against your home.
By keeping the sun directly off your house, you are helping it stay cooler in the summer. The less your exterior walls heat up the cooler the interior of your house is. It also helps keep the sun from coming directly into the windows and heating up your rooms. Porches, awnings, pergolas, loggias all help to keep the sun from directly hitting your house but still allow indirect light in creating a cooler environment during the summer months.
Are you concerned your air conditioner is not functioning as well as it should? Contact Aspen Ridge Inspection Services to perform an HVAC inspection to inspect your heating and cooling unit, evaluate the performance of your HVAC unit, and identify and report any major defects in the performance of your HVAC unit. Since the average American household throws away the equivalent of a 42” screen TV every year it can also be a good idea to have Aspen Ridge Inspection Services perform a Home Energy Inspection to provide recommendations on how to save energy, increase comfort, and protect the environment.
Implementing as many of these tips as possible can help keep your house cool in the summer, keep you cooler, lower your energy bills and help the environment.