Ann Meisner's Blog
Keeping your house cool during the summer months is easy--just blast the air conditioner until autumn, right? Well, for most of us the steep increase in our summer electric bills make us hesitant to keep the air conditioner on more than necessary.
There are techniques and habits, however, that will help you keep your house cool without sweating your electric bill.
In this article, we’re going to break down several ways to lower the temperature in your house. Some will save you money immediately, others are long term solutions that will keep your bill low years down the road.
Investing for the future
Oftentimes, the best solutions are the ones that address the root causes. If your house receives a lot of sunlight, there are a few projects you can undertake now that will save you money for years to come.
First, making sure your home is air tight and well insulated will help you keep the cool air in and the warm air out. Insulation and weatherstripping are easy to neglect, since they’re mostly out of sight and mind. However, the work they do and the pennies they’ll save you in heating and AC will add up over the years.
Next, if you do use an air conditioner, make sure it’s energy efficient. Many people use years-old air conditioners that waste a lot of electricity. Determine if your unit should be replaced or maintenanced--spending some money on your air conditioner now will save you in the long run.
Other, lesser-known, methods of cooling your home involve altering the exterior of your home. You can do this by planting trees in strategic areas to give shade to your home. Or, you can paint your home a brighter color and use reflective roof paint that will reduce the amount of light absorbed on sunny days. This is also true for driveways, where dark colored asphalt will absorb more heat than bright colored concrete.
Simple cooling tips
If you’d rather make short-term changes to your house to lower the temperature now, we have several pieces of advice:
Open your blinds and windows at night, when the outdoor temperature drops below the indoor temperature, and then close them in the morning before you leave for work.
Limit daytime appliance use. Your laundry machine, dishwasher, and oven all give off a lot of heat that can make your house hotter than need be. Wait until the sun goes down and until you can open the windows in your kitchen and laundry room before starting your chores. Cooking outside and having cold prepared meals is a good way to limit oven use in the summer months.
Change or clean your air conditioner filters. Old and dirty filters make your until work harder than it needs to.
Try the ice and fan trick. Put a large bowl of ice in front of your fan to chill and moisten the air it gives off. This is especially nice if you don’t like the dry, sterile feeling of air-conditioned rooms.
Keep the lights off and use high efficiency bulbs, such as LEDs.
Create a draft by opening a downstairs window slightly on one side of the house and opening fully an upstairs window on the other side of the house.
Make sure your ceiling fan is blowing down, or counter-clockwise.
Use awnings to let light into your home while avoiding direct sunlight from heating up the house.