Indeed, you didn’t even need to look at the long range weather forecast because you know that July and August routinely serve up multiple rounds of high heat. You were ready in June and if there are still a few loose ends to take care of, you’ll tie those now. For everyone else, the following seven smart ways to cool the house down will quickly be put into action.
1. Shades and blinds are closed. On the hottest days you need to employ counter-intuitive thinking. Instead of opening shades and blinds during the daylight hours to welcome in natural light, keep these closed all day long. Your house will be the darker for it, but it will be cooler too.
2. Apply weather stripping. Yes, weather stripping is suitable for the summer too. If your windows are old, they will leak heat out in the winter and air-conditioning during the summer. Keeping shades and blinds shut will help, but openings in windows (and doors) can work against you.
3. Turn on the ceiling fans. Ceiling fans provide a great way to distribute air. Turn these on and let them work throughout the heat wave. Such fans provide another advantage: you won’t need to have the air-conditioner setting below 78 degrees. Stay cool and save on energy too.
4. Use a dehumidifier. If you have a basement or a crawl space, install a dehumidifier. It won’t cool the entire house, but it will keep your basement from turning musty. If you use your basement for cleaning your clothes or as a recreation room, the dehumidifier can be plugged in and work quietly in the corner. Just expect to empty it about one every four to six hours when humidity levels are at its peak.
5. Maintain your HVAC system. Homes with central air-conditioning systems are equipped with filters. Those filters need to be regularly cleaned to remove debris. Clogged filters make air-conditioners work harder, consuming more energy. Don’t forget to replace the hallway vent filters too.
6. Turn off excess lighting, appliances. Sure, if your home is dark during the day because you closed up the windows, you need some lighting. But, perhaps not all that much. Use minimal lighting and turn off the appliances and computer equipment you are not using. You will benefit from a lower electrical bill and you won’t cancel out the cooling effect with hot-running equipment.
7. Use a microwave or cook outside. Who wants to turn on the oven during a heat wave? If you can microwave it, then do so. If you can tolerate cooking outside, then use the grill. If neither will do, then prepare cool meals such as salads and sandwiches. Heating up the oven spreads heat and can make your climate control system work harder.
The heat wave will soon pass and you will be able to open your windows again. Use this break in the weather pattern to check your air-conditioning system, to inspect your ceiling fans and to learn how much you paid for your electricity. And, if you have a whole house fan, keep it going to cool off your attic and to help preserve your heat-tested roof.