Dealing with the summer heat can be pretty expensive. The colder you need to keep your house, the more it costs. Here are some tips to help you stay cool at home more efficiently.
- Dress light – Make sure you are wearing cool clothing in your home. Wearing long sleeves and warm pants is going to force you to keep the temperature colder to stay comfortable. If dressing in cooler clothes lets you turn the thermostat up even just a single degree, it can still result in significant savings.
- Take off your shoes – This is related to dressing light, but if your feet are cool, it is much easier to feel cool all over. A cheap pair of sandals to wear inside can pay for themselves very quickly if they help you feel cooler.
- Use fans – Most homes don’t distribute air particularly well. A few well-placed fans can put a big dent in how much your air conditioner has to run. Pay attention to how the air flows through your house. We use a cheap little fan with a built in thermostat so it turns itself off once it has moved enough air to bring the temperature in line with the rest of the house.
- Cold water – Keeping cool drinks easily available can do a lot to keep you cool. We use a water purifier jug and keep it in the refrigerator. The water is already cold. If I start to feel hot, a trip to the refrigerator for a glass of cool water is usually more effective than adjusting the thermostat downward.
- No leaks – Make sure you don’t have any gaping holes around your windows or under your doors that are leaking in heat. You can quickly fix any problems with foam, tape or other materials.
- Garage oven – Depending on how your home is constructed, your garage may be acting as an oven. Leaving your garage door slightly open or even setting up a fan to help push out some of the heated air can make a big difference in the temperature in your home–especially if you have a room above the garage. Consider where the sun hits to keep things as cool as possible.
- Plant a tree – obviously this is a very long term solution, but a well placed tree can do more for keeping your house cool than just about anything else. If you plan carefully, you can place it where it will keep the summer sun off your house, but still allow plenty of winter sun rays when you want the extra heat.
- Green house glass – If your windows are made from standard glass, they may be acting as a green house. Anything you can do to help keep the heat outside will help your energy efficiency. This can be as simple as closing the curtains or as complicated as installing screens that help block the light. Tin foil to block out the windows is also effective, but might not look particularly nice.
- Dryers, Ovens and Appliances – Your appliances can be a big source of heat in your home. If you really want to keep the heat out, consider hanging your clothes outside to dry. Even if you still use your dryer, consider starting it before you go to bed so it won’t be running during the heat of the day. The same thing goes for your dishwasher. Planning meals that require less cooking on extremely hot days can also help. Consider turning down your hot water heater a few degrees to help lower the amount of heat it is generating in your home.
Originally published August 16, 2007.
you mean there are people who turn on the oven on a 45 degree (113 fahrenheit) day?
who needs to use the drier in summer? it’s quicker to put them on the line! what with global warming, the first load is dry by the time the second load has finished…
…my sister once met a Norwegian who said, with all sincerity “I just love those warm summer months, you can get all your washing done in one week.”
Week?! I’m used to ‘afternoon’.
Tyler Ingram says
If I put tin-foil on my windows people will think my house is a grow op ;)
Though luckily I have huge ever greens that block setting sun so in the evening its pretty cool.
Mark Shead says
@Tyler – I hadn’t thought about that. :)
Johnny Mean says
I live in a studio with glass floor to ceiling on to of the walls. Instead of tin foil, I have found space blanket is relatively cheap ($2-3) and you can use one or two layers to control amount of tint. Way easier to put up instead of tin foil.
Paul Maurice Martin says
Good tips. I remember when I discovered no. four for myself and being surprised how much of a difference that can make on a hot day.
Nathan Walton says
I laughed out loud
10. Move to Ireland. . .
What about putting a set of shutters or white cloth over the AC compressor in your back yard? I’ve found that cuts the cost of cooling quite a bit. (Since the metal is cooler, it cools the hotter air more effectively.)
Mark Shead says
@matt – I have tried some things like that, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference for me. However if it works for you thats great! Just make sure you have plenty of airflow around the A/C. If you trap all the hot air in one place it will make things worse–so covering it with cloth may not be the best way to go.
Another way to save energy is to upgrade to the highest Sear Rating AC with a two stage motor.
Seal all your outside walls including outlets and baseboards ..why builders don’t do this is beyond me.
Buy a frig with a two stage motor.
Plant trees in your yard.
The higher your AC’s Sear rating, the less energy you will use. Look for a number of 18 or higher. Most home builders install the lowest rated AC’s allowed by city code.