If climbing temperatures are turning your house into an oven and causing the air conditioning bill to go through the roof, read on for 10 quick, affordable tips to beat the heat and save energy.
1. Close Blinds and Curtains
Mini blinds or curtains can reduce the sunlight and heat streaming in through your windows.
At my house, simply installing blinds on the south-facing windows completely changed the temperature in that part of the house.
Make sure blinds or curtains are white on the side facing the outdoors — white reflects the sun more than other colors.
Solar sun screens and window film are other options that can greatly reduce the heat coming through windows.
2. Install Cool Lighting
Incandescent light bulbs can significantly heat up a room. That’s just one reason why more and more homeowners have turned to alternatives.
Another reason is they’re not energy-efficient and alternatives, such as CFLs and LEDs, last much longer.
Replace standard bulbs with high-efficiency, low-heat LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs, and turn off the lights when they’re not needed.
3. Cook Wisely
Eat cold meals, cook outside on the grill, or use the microwave for cooking, when possible, to minimize heat indoors.
Here’s how to beat the heat when you do cook indoors:
- Use pressure cookers and slow cookers
- Cover pots to minimize indoor humidity.
- Use a range hood or microwave vent fan to vent hot air outside.
- Check the oven by turning on the light and looking through the glass, rather than opening the oven door.
- Turn the oven off a few minutes before food is cooked to reduce oven heat.
4. Turn Off Electronics
Computers, TVs and other electronics generate quite a bit of heat when sitting idle or even when turned off, so unplug devices when they’re not in use.
Another easy way to beat the heat these electronics produce is to plug them into a surge protector that has an on/off switch, then turn the switch off when the devices are not in use.
5. Repair Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are a major source of heat gain in the house. Older single-pane windows and doors without proper weatherstripping are the worst culprits.
So keep windows closed and locked, and doors tightly closed to prevent cool air from escaping.
If you can’t replace your windows and doors with more energy-efficient models, repair any gaps or replace weatherstripping around windows and doors.
Also, don’t open windows at night unless the temperature drops to the mid-70s Fahrenheit or lower.
6. Use Fans for Cooling
A paddle ceiling fan or portable fan uses much less energy than an air conditioner, but it’s only effective when you’re in the room to feel the cooling, so turn fans off when you leave.
When you need to beat the heat, run ceiling fans in a counterclockwise direction (when looking up) when you’re in the room to help keep you cool through evaporation. This will allow you to set the thermostat on your air conditioner higher and save energy.
7. Clean Air Conditioner Filters
While your AC system is cranking away, the filter is getting more use than usual. Changing the AC air filter every month or so during the highest-use months allows air to flow easily through your HVAC system, making it run more efficiently and saving energy.
8. Put Off Chores
You heard me! Don’t run the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, or other appliances during the heat of the day, since these machines generate heat and humidity that will be hard to overcome.
If you really want to beat the heat, you need to change your habits — just for the summer — and put these chores off until evening when possible.
When cleaning clothes:
- Wash clothes in cold water.
- Run the washer or dryer only if you have a full load.
- Choose the shortest wash cycle that gets the job done.
- Clean dryer vent pipe and lint screen regularly to lower drying time.
- Dry clothes outside on a clothesline when possible.
9. Use Less Hot Water
Turn your water heater down to a lower temperature setting so it will run less and produce less heat.
Hot showers create a lot of excess heat and humidity in the house, so:
- Take shorter showers to reduce humidity and heat.
- Take cool — rather than hot — showers.
- Run the bathroom exhaust fan when showering or bathing, and keep it running for 20 minutes afterward, to remove excess heat and humidity.
10. Plan Ahead
Long-term strategies to beat the heat and keep your house cooler include:
- Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of the house.
- Install insulated glass windows with low-E coating or storm windows.
- Add awnings over sunny windows.
- Install additional attic insulation.
- Replace the existing roof with cool shingles or light-colored roofing.
These are only a few of the many strategies for keeping your house cool in the summer. Put some of these home improvements on your to-do list for relief in years to come.