Hot August Nights: 15 Tips for Cooling Your Home

Did you know it is recommended that your thermostat be changed to 78 degrees during the summertime? For some, that may feel a bit on the hot side, but if you don’t have A/C, that can seem heavenly.  In order to get your house down to that temperature (and keep it there), we compiled a list of 15 things you can do to help cool your home this August.

15 Tips for a Cooler House

1. Outdoor Shade.  Bushes and tall trees, when placed correctly to shade your home, can reduce the amount of heat beating down on your house and heating up the interior.

2. Appliance Run Times. Avoid starting heat-generating appliances–dishwashers, dyers, ovens–during the hottest times of the day.  Run these appliances once the sun goes down, when possible.

3. Close Up the House. Keeping your house closed shut during the day will ward off unwanted heat and humidity.  You can circulate the air at night by opening the windows or with the use of ceiling fans.

4. Ceiling Fans.  Speaking of ceiling fans, they are a great way to circulate air and provide a breeze within the house during the warm months.  They double in the winter with two-story homes by circulating heat that rises to the top level.

5. Window Fans. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, placing a window fan in a window when the temperature outside is in the mid-70′s or lower (like during the night and on cooler days) can help cool and circulate the air.  Open your interior doors to help assist with airflow.

6. Air Conditioner Maintenance. If you have A/C, be sure to routinely maintenance it yearly to maximize the efficiency of your unit. Clean your A/C’s air filter every month during cooling season, to help combat normal dust build-up which can reduce air flow by one percent per week.

7. Upgrade your A/C Unit.  If you have an older central air unit, consider replacing the outdoor compressor with a higher-efficiency unit. You may also want to verify that the air conditioner is the appropriate size for your household to maximize cooling and efficiency. Several studies have found that most central air conditioning systems are generally over-sized by 50 percent or more.

8. Avoid Dehumidifiers With A/C Units. Using a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating will increase the cooling load and make your AC unit work harder than necessary.

9. Seal and Insulate Ducts. Just as sealing your ducts in the winter will help with the efficiency of your heating unit, sealing and insulating ducts also helps keep your house cooler in the summer.

10. Unused rooms. Close the doors and and vents in unused rooms of the house.

11. Window Coverings.  Providing shade on the windows (especially on the east and west windows) can dampen incoming sun rays and dramatically cool the house.  In fact, mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent. Try keeping blinds, shutters, draperies, or other window coverings closed when you are not home, or when the sunlight is directly hitting your windows.

12. Awnings. Installing awnings on south-facing windows and where there’s insufficient roof overhang to provide shade can dramatically reduce the overall heat penetration into the house.

13. Low-E Windows.  If you don’t have Low-E windows, consider adding Low-E films to your windows.  Not only does Low-E films have cooling properties, but it also protects your floors and furniture from UV ray damage.

14. Infills.  Exotic infills in your windows (where gases such as krypton and argon are filled in the space between panes) is a new technology that boosts R-values and provides better interior insulation.

15. Shade your A/C. When possible, shading your interior or exterior A/C unit can increase unit’s efficiency by 5 percent to 10 percent.

Keep cool and have a great rest of the summer!