Having an air conditioner is a near-must in climates where months-long heat waves are a summer norm. And with that comes an equally scorching energy bill. Even in regions with gentler climates, homeowners can still experience enough hot days in a row to nearly go mad.
It doesn’t have to be so hard. Whether you want to save money by running your air conditioner less or brave the heat without one, here are six steps that will help you stay cool.
1. Block the Sun From Reaching Your Windows
Energy-efficient houses depend on well-designed shading systems, because the best way to avoid summer heat is by blocking the sun’s rays from ever reaching the windows.
It’s a simple concept that we regularly employ with beach umbrellas to protect our skin and carports to shade our cars. Yet when it comes to houses, for some reason people tend to believe that interior drapes are as effective as exterior shading. It’s simply not true.
2. Add Interior Drapes, Blinds or Shades
Once the heat from the sun’s rays passes through the glass of a window, that heat is in the house and will need to be ventilated to escape. To keep your floors and walls from soaking up that heat from direct rays and emitting it throughout the day, it can help to add another layer of protection between the window and the main thermal mass of your home.
Sheer window treatments are a nice way to mitigate direct sun rays to the floor but maintain soft, natural daylight. Plus, white reflects sunlight better than colors.
3. Get the Air Circulating
Air will flow only if it is forced (via a fan of some sort) or if there is a large temperature difference with a neighboring body of air.
Night cooling is a great way to naturally decrease the temperature in your house and exchange hot interior air for cooler outdoor air. As I mentioned before, I have my windows open only in the early morning, at night or late in the evening when it is cooler outside than my ideal temperature indoors.
You may need to do some testing to see what works best for you, depending on your climate and the orientation of your house toward the sun. For this to work, there needs to be a substantial difference in temperature between the inside of your house and the outside. Once the outdoor air starts to heat up, I close my windows to try and keep as much of that heat out as possible.
4. Turn Off Major Appliances During the Day
To help maintain those cooler temperatures during the day, reduce anything that generates heat in your house or apartment. For example, don’t use the dryer or oven and try not to open the fridge too often. The more you open it, the more the motor has to work to cool it down again, and the heat generated from that work will be released back into your apartment.
5. Transition Your Bed Into Summer Mode
I don’t know about you, but I feel summer heat the most when I’m trying to sleep. Reduce the amount of bedding you have and stick to natural fabrics like linen or 100 percent cotton. Synthetic blends don’t breathe enough to release all the heat we generate during the night.
6. Stay Hydrated
Everyone knows that staying hydrated in summer is extremely important. But did you know that drinking water also helps regulate your body temperature?