Summer is approaching fast, which can lead to a bit of anxiety for those without central AC. It can be tough to enjoy those warm, sunny days when your home feels like a sauna. Not being able to cool you home at the touch of a button can certainly be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean you have to sweat all summer long. In fact, there are several cheap and easy ways to keep your house cool even if you don’t have central air conditioning. Use these helpful tips and tricks to make sure you stay cool and comfortable on summer’s hottest days.
Install a Window and Portable Air Conditioning Unit
Don’t be discouraged by the high prices you see in advertisements for window and portable air conditioners. For most people, a top-of-the-line, brand-new AC unit simply isn’t necessary. The best solution is just to use these units in the rooms where you spend most of your time, like the bedroom and the living room. Window air conditioners are the cheaper option. While units often cost upwards of $150 in the store, you can often score a perfectly functioning unit for around $50 when you look on Craigslist.
Portable air conditioners are more expensive, but it also offers you the opportunity to buy one unit rather than multiple window units. They do use more energy than a window unit, however, so make sure to use it only when necessary to keep your energy costs low.
Keep the Sun Out
Thermal energy causes a lot of the heat in your home. Pay close attention to where and when the sun hits your home directly. During those hours, you’ll want to keep the blinds down or the curtains drawn. This will keep out the sunlight so your home can stay cooler. If it gets too dark, consider using blinds that allow some natural light through. That’s often the best compromise for many homeowners since using too many hot incandescent lights too make up for the darkness can also contribute to heat buildup in your home. But if you’re at work during those hours and aren’t worried about the dark, keep the curtains and blinds closed for the best results. Homeowners looking for a more long-term solution can also consider installing awnings or planting trees on southern and western exposures where the sun hits hardest.
Use the Right Fan
A box fan is a great tool for circulating air in a room. But remember that fans don’t necessarily cool things down, they just move the air that’s already present in your space. So placing a fan in a room full of hot, humid air won’t help too much. A great way to maximize your fan results is to use a window fan with reversible flow. That means it can be used to blow cool air in from outside or to blow hot air from inside out. Some fans even allow for both of these actions to take place at the same time by incorporating two separate sets of fan blades. These fans are fairly cheap and can last for a long time. Just be sure to clean them out occasionally as they tend to collect dirt, pollen and other substances.
Take Advantage of Cool Temperatures at Night
If the nights are cool, make sure you’re taking advantage of the opportunity to take the temperature down a few notches in your home. You’ll want to keep windows open at night when possible so that the cool air can filter in. Sometimes, placing a fan in front of the window pointing in towards the room will help facilitate the transfer of cool air from outside. In the morning, close the windows back up and let your home’s insulation keep that cool air from heating back up again.
Turn Off Appliances When Not in Use
Many of the appliances and electronics we use in our homes emit quite a bit of heat. In the summer, it’s especially important to be aware of which items are turned on so that you can reduce the heat in your home. In addition to being better for the environment, doing this also keeps your energy bill lower. Make sure you’re always turning off lights, computers, TVs, ovens and other devices as soon as you’re done using them.
Change Your Roof
If you currently have a dark, heat-absorbent color on your roof, your home is collect way more heat than it needs to. Many homes are now installing light-colored shingles to reflect heat rather than absorb it. If you have a flat roof, you can paint it white for the best results.
Grill Instead of Baking
Making dinner in the kitchen every night only makes the heat in your home worse. Therefore, it’s smart to cook food outside whenever possible. If you can, use a grill when you want a warm meal. Other days, try out some cold salad recipes for a delicious dinner that doesn’t require any heat.