Summer is finally here, and with each passing year seeing the mercury seemingly climbing higher, it’s hot hot hot! While summer is a great time to enjoy the great outdoors, the novelty of sunny days can soon wear off if your home feels like a sweatbox.
You might be thinking that the only way to get comfortable is to crank on the AC, but as many of us strive to tighten our finances, it may seem like an unwelcome extra cost. Fortunately, there are many more ways to keep your home cool, without cranking up your electricity bill.
Redirect the Sunlight
The vast majority of the heat that enters your home comes in through the window. The sun’s rays are magnified, intensifying the heat, and effectively turning your home into a greenhouse. By closing the blinds, curtains, or shutters on your windows, particularly the south- and west-facing ones, during the hottest part of the day, you can dramatically reduce the temperature inside. Go for lighter coloured blinds, that will reflect the heat rather than absorb it. Another tip that can look great, is to fit colorful awnings on your windows.
Let the Cool Air in
Windows are also the best point at which to let cool air in, so if you live in an area with cooler evenings, this is a great time to open up. Cold air displaces warmer air, which rises, so by opening windows on all floors of your home, you can encourage cooler air to effectively push the hot air out of the upstairs windows. Be sure to keep the doors open throughout your home, in order to improve the airflow and prevent any rooms becoming stuffy.
Make Proper Use of Fans
Fans are an excellent way to improve airflow, which is essential for cooling you down efficiently. Ceiling fans are great for mixing the air in your home, and can really help your AC performance — just be sure to set them counterclockwise, which will force air down rather than sucking it up. Whole house fans fitted in the attic are also great for creating tunnels of air and forcing the warmer air outside. Stand fans are good for helping air to move from room to room.
Check Your Insulation
Most of us only worry about insulation during winter, but it’s worth ensuring it’s in top shape during summer as well. Consider insulating your ceiling, which can allow unwanted warm air to creep in. Check also around windows and doors, and use caulk to fill any gaps.
Take Care With Appliances
Many household appliances pump out a lot of heat while in use, so if you’re on a mission to keep your home cool, use them carefully. It’s good practice to avoid using dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers, during the hottest part of the day. If possible, try to use them in the evening, when temperatures start to drop. Think about switching computers and TVs off while not in use, preventing them from pumping out unnecessary heat. When you shower, keep your bathroom fan running a little longer than normal to help drive off the warm air — don’t worry, these basic fans use a minimal amount of electricity.
While considering appliances, the one that perhaps produces the most heat is the stove. There’s a reason the Aussies love a good barbecue, and hot days are a great excuse to fire up the grill. You can cook an array of dishes on an outdoor grill, so don’t feel as if you’re limited to burgers, sausages, and chops! If you do cook inside, make use of the hood and let it run to suck up as much hot air as possible.
Paint the Exterior of Your Home
If your home has a dark exterior, there’s a good chance it’s absorbing a lot more heat than it would if it were lighter. This can make your home unbearable during summer without pumping up the air conditioning, which in turn can boost your energy bills. It might be worth repainting the exterior of your home — you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make, not to mention that it might also boost your home’s curb appeal.
Get the Most From Your AC
Even if you take all the above advice, chances are you’ll still need to switch on the air conditioning. Fortunately, with a few simple tricks, you can maximize its efficiency and save on your energy consumption. Be sure to change the filters regularly during summer, at least every 4 weeks, and avoid the temptation to set the temperature too low. Aim for a few degrees lower than the ambient temperature — while this may feel warm at first, you will typically get used to it within a week or so.