WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI
Heat wave! Are you feeling it? Are you over it? Are you dreading this month’s electric bill that will rival your monthly grocery budget? There are a few tricks that can help you keep cool at home without running your air conditioning all day.
Add an awning
If you live in a master-planned community, you’ll probably have to go through the effort of asking permission to add anything to the exterior of your home. But, if you’re able, an awning can go a long way toward lowering the temps on the inside of your house. Will you have to lay out money upfront? Sure. Will it pay for itself in the end? Yes.
“Awnings not only add personality to a home’s exterior but offer an excellent defense against the sun in areas with perpetually hot weather,” said Houzz. “Exterior awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent for south-facing windows and 77 percent for west-facing windows.”
Solar films and solar shades, which block UV rays and keep some of the sun’s heat away, can have a similar effect without the architectural change.
If you’re considering different window covering options and heat coming through your windows is a concern, blinds may be a good choice. Choose white reflective blinds and you can reduce heat gain by 45 percent, while still having the option of raising or opening them easily whenever you want.
Carefully select your drapes
If you’re going with drapes for your windows, you’ll want to consider more than the way they look.
“A drapery’s ability to reduce heat loss and gain depends on several factors, including fabric type (closed or open weave) and color,” said Energy.gov. “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%. Draperies also stay cooler in the summer than some other window treatments because their pleats and folds lose heat through convection.”
For maximum heat and light control, look for blackout fabric. “Previously the purview of drapery makers only, drapery fabric with a built-in blackout lining is now available in fabric stores,” said HomeGuides. “A high-quality blackout fabric or lining blocks 100 percent of light. New advancements in the production of drapery lining have brought the price down and made it a better, softer-draping product than before. It is now easy to find in panels that can be added to the back of existing drapery. They can be cut to size by the homeowner and, because the fabric does not fray, does not require hemming. This is the most immediate, and exceptionally effective, method of blocking heat transfer.”
“Motorized window shades and automatic blinds are some of the hottest products for the savvy smart home buyer who wants to maximize their energy savings and have a smarter home,” said Electronic House. “The ability to control your shades with a smart phone, or have them automatically open or close based on timers or pre-programmed conditions is not only a cool home feature, but it saves time and energy buy using or defending against the sun’s rays.”
This is key for people, for example, who want to make sure west-facing windows are covered during sunset and want east-facing windows to get natural light and are driving home from work at this time of day. “Motorized blinds and shades can be part of a complete custom home automation system, or they can be added one room at a time, as your budget or needs require,” they said. “One of the nice things about automatic shades in a home automation system is that each room can be programmed to run its own scenes in its own way, depending on how the room is used.”
A fan placed in the middle of the room can give you some relief from the heat, allowing you to turn down you’re A/C. With so many fan options out there you’ll want to check out the reviews, which will give you specific info so you can find the best option for you. Personally, we’re into this Soleus Air tower fan. Two words: remote control!
On a really hot day, you may also want to think about getting creative with your fan. “Not even an air conditioner can give off a faux sea breeze… but this simple trick can,” said Huffington Post. “Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust us: it’s magic.”
Energy companies and green experts already recommend bathing, doing laundry and cooking during cooler times of the day, which can also help you control the heat in your home. If you have to use the shower, washer, or oven in the heat of day, counteract the heat rise by helping control the humidity. “Turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air, but be sure to turn them off when you’re finished so they don’t extract cooled air from the house,” said HomeTips.
Get a ceiling fan
A ceiling fan doesn’t lower the temperature in the room, but it can make you more comfortable by circulating the air, allowing you to give your AC a break, or at least turn it down.
Get a whole house fan
A whole house fan can use as little as 10–20% of the energy expended by an AC unit, depending on the size of the unit. “A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents,” said Houselogic.
Take a look at your sheets
Getting through the day during a steamy summer may not be a problem, especially if you work outside of the house. But those nights when the temps don’t go down can be unbearable. Sheets made of certain materials can make it worse, but new options can help.
“Cool bed sheets are made with natural fibers that are breathable and can prevent perspiration or feature moisture-wicking fabrics that whisk your sweat away faster than you can produce it — so you’ll stay dry through the night,” said Bustle. “Considering that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees, it stands to reason that sleeping with sheets that keep you cool can make your bed feel less like a sauna is a very good idea.”
Look for natural fibers like cotton (especially Egyptian) or bamboo, and away from sateen and silk.