We all know that in the summer, when the sun pours on the heat, that the most comfortable remedy is to turn the AC on high. But running the AC at full blast can give us a major headache when the electric bill arrives. How can you keep your cool without breaking the bank? Here are some low energy ideas to mitigate the toastiest of days!
When possible, avoid synthetic fabrics. Whether it’s your clothing or your bedding, natural materials not only allow for better air circulation, but also wick moisture away from your body. Both of these elements will help you to stay cooler without lowering the temperature. Choose cotton, silk or linen fabric which has a looser weave (think lower thread count in bedding). Anything which contains polyester, acrylic, acetate, nylon or spandex is a fabric you will want to avoid, if you desire coolness.
MOVE THAT AIR!
Having a ceiling fan in every room gets air circulating, and moving air naturally feels cooler than stagnant air. If you keep the ceiling fans running, you’ll find that you can keep your AC set at a higher temperature and use less energy, while still feeling comfortable. One caveat – most ceiling fans have a switch on them to reverse the direction. This isn’t just for the personal preference of whether you like it to spin to the right or to the left! It actually moves the air in a different direction. Heat is up, cool is down. So set the fan to spin clockwise in the winter and counter-clockwise in the summer. This is true for most ceiling fans.
Another way to increase the efficiency of your cooling system, if you have central air, is to adjust your air return vents. In the summer, be sure to open the upper vents and close the lower vents. Hot air will rise naturally, and the open upper vents will remove it. Cool air will sink and stay in the room. With the vents properly positioned, your system will have to work less hard to cool more efficiently.
Did you know that while water in the air, as humidity, makes heat worse, water in your body or on your body, lessens heat’s effect? Drink water frequently – up to 8 ounces every hour. If you add lemon slices, cucumber slices or mint leaves to your water, it will have an additional cooling effect. In addition, keep a spray bottle filled with water handy. A fine mist on your exposed skin will feel cool as the water evaporates. Finally, running cold water on your wrists for 10 seconds will help you to feel cool for nearly an hour.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Did you know that your diet can also affect how hot or cool you feel? Foods which have a high water content, such as watermelon or cucumber will both hydrate you and cool you. In addition, many fruits are a good choice for a cool diet. Finally, spicy food, if you can tolerate it, is a great way to beat the heat. As you eat spicy food, your blood circulation increases, your body temperature actually rises and you begin to sweat. While sweating doesn’t sound pleasant, it is your body’s natural way to cool you as the moisture evaporates.
COVER THE WINDOWS
It might sound obvious, but one reason your home becomes hot in summer is via radiant heat through your windows. Even if you have triple paned, insulated windows, you still will benefit from having some sort of window covering which blocks sunlight. Window blinds and insulated draperies both can be closed to shut out the heat and light during the hottest part of the day. At night, they may be opened.
SAY NO TO RADIANT HEAT
Avoid cooking in the house. Any appliance which produces heat will residually increase your home’s temperature. Instead, invest in a grill and take your cooking outdoors. Or even better, eat cold foods such as salads or chilled soups.
Switch your light bulbs to LED or CFL. These bulbs give off far less residual heat than a traditional incandescent bulb. In addition, keep your computer in sleep mode unless you’re using it, and avoid leaving media devices such as sound equipment or the television on when they’re not in use.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION …
Try to think proactively in keeping cool. While they will take some time to be effective, your planting trees around your home will eventually provide cooling shade over your house. Do keep in mind that you must plant trees at least 10 feet from your foundation, as tree root systems can become very invasive as the tree grows. If the tree is closer to your house, you risk that branching root system cracking and damaging your foundation. You may also need a root guard between your home and the tree. When in doubt, consult a tree expert on the distance a tree should be planted from your home.
Awnings over your windows or porches with overhangs will help to shade your property as well.
Is your house well-insulated? Sufficient insulation will help to keep the hot air out in the summer as well as keep the hot air in during the winter. If your home is lacking in this area, an investment to improve it will save you money in the long term.
Finally, be sure your attic is vented. A tightly-closed attic, with no airflow, will make a house feel even hotter. Vents will allow the heat to escape as it rises. In addition, why not install a whole house fan in your attic? This will draw the hot air from the lower levels and move it out through the attic vents.
If you liked these tips, please check out our other maintenance tips at our American eWarranty site!