If you don’t have an A/C unit, want to keep your electricity costs down, or simply don’t trust your property’s outdated cooling system to work efficiently, we’ve put together the top simple and affordable tips for keeping your house cool this summer.
Switch your ceiling fans:
Change your ceiling fan setting so the blades turn counter-clockwise in the summer. This seasonal fan adjustment will force air down into the room creating a windchill effect, that will make the room feel cooler (even if it isn’t). Check out this video for how to easily change your ceiling fan’s direction of rotation.
Change your bulbs:
Traditional incandescent bulbs turn about 90 percent of the electricity they use into heat, and only 5 to 10 percent into light. By switching to fluorescent, compact fluorescents or LED lightbulbs your lighting systems won’t be adding unwanted heat inside your home. Plus these types of bulbs last longer and use less energy so you’ll be saving money in the long run beyond your cooling bill. Not sure you want to commit to higher-priced LED bulbs, Lloyd Alter provides a great explanation of the different types of LEDs and his experience converting his home to 100% LED lighting for treehugger.com.
Turn off the lights:
Even better than changing your lightbulbs, try to use as little artificial lighting as possible. The longer days means you can rely on natural sunlight to see throughout the day. So flip the switch when you leave a room and let daylight be your guide during your summer activities.
Although seemingly minimal, your electronics still use electricity when they are plugged in and not turned on. Try unplugging your tv, chargers and computers when they aren’t in use, to avoid passive heat generation.
Don’t touch your stove:
It’s time to get creative with your summertime meal prep. Using your stove or oven in the summer can significantly increase the inside temperature of your house. After all the work you’ve spent trying to keep hot air from coming inside, why would you reverse it by making a heat source from within?
There is a reason grilled foods are associated with summer, so it’s time to fire up the bbq. For stovetop cooking, try using an electric skillet setup outside for easy cooking options. You can essentially make anything that you would saute or pan fry in an electric skillet without ever needing to touch your stove. If you don’t have an outdoor patio to keep the heat outdoors, instead of cooking on a skillet, you can try using your slow cooker at night, so the appliance is on during the coolest part of the day, resulting in minimal house heating.
Install blackout window curtains:
Keeping your blinds or curtains closed during the summer essentially prevents your home from becoming a miniature greenhouse, especially if you have south or west-facing windows. Adding blackout curtains to your windows can provide additional protection for keeping the heat out during the summer. The Department of Energy claims that “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%. Check out more elaborate energy-efficient window treatments for keeping out summertime heat at Energy.gov.
Consider outdoor window treatments:
Hang tightly woven screens or bamboo shades outside the window during the summer to stop 60 to 80 percent of the sun’s heat from getting to the windows. If you rent your property, make sure to check with your landlord or HOA about allowable outdoor window coverings.
Open the windows at night:
You can help get rid of unwanted heat through ventilation if the temperature is lower outside than it is inside. To facilitate ventilation, window fans should be located on the downwind side of the house facing out. A window should be open in each room. Interior doors must remain open to allow airflow.
Hack your floor fan:
Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack or ice block) and position it at an angle in front of a large floor fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust us: it’s magic. Put a block of ice (in a pan big enough to catch the melted volume of water) in front of the fan. Makeshift air conditioning!
Tint your windows:
If you don’t want to commit to new window treatments or hate the idea of keeping the outdoors out of view all summer long, try temporary tinting solutions for your windows. Gila makes window film that clings to your window as a temporary heat-reducing fix.
Have any more tips for staying cool and keeping electricity costs down this summer? Let us know in the comments!
This article was originally published in June 2016 and has since been updated.