Whether or not you have an air conditioning, chances are you want to stay cool and comfortable throughout the summer without having to spend a fortune. These tips can help you chill out without burning through your bank account.
If you have an air conditioner:
Image Via Jan Tik [Flickr]
- Leave the thermostat high. Set it for 80 or 85 when you’re not home and if it’s really hot in your area, don’t turn it all the way off when you go to work. You don’t need to keep things too cool while you’re gone, but it can actually cost more to cool your whole house back down once it gets to over 100 degrees than it does to leave the AC on low.
- Keep your thermostat away from electronics and sunlight. These heat sources can make your readings come out artificially high, causing your AC to run longer than you need it. Also, try installing a programmable thermostat.
- Close the doors to rooms you aren’t using. And, if you have central AC, close the air vent to that room. You don’t need to cool spaces where you don’t go.
- Shade your AC unit. That way, it doesn’t have to work as hard (but be sure not to block airflow).
- Consider upgrading your air conditioner. If it’s more than a decade old, the upgrade could be cheaper than the money you spend on an outdated unit that’s not as efficient and uses more electricity.
- Use fans in conjunction with your AC. While the air conditioner might give you nice cool air, the fans will help circulate it to where you need it most, meaning you won’t have to turn the thermostat down so low.
Keeping your house cooler:
Image Via Robert R. Gigliotti [Flickr]
- Use fans. Ceiling fans, box fans, desk fans…they all circulate air, making your home feel cooler. In fact, just a one-mile-per-hour breeze can make the air feel three degrees cooler. If you really want to get the most out of your fan, try placing a frozen jug of water in front of it so freezing air is circulated throughout the room.
- Insulate your attic. Keep the hot air trapped up there from reaching inside the rest of the house. If you don’t have an attic vent, install one to help the hot air escape. Also, make sure your doors and windows are well insulated –you don’t want them letting out all of your cool air.
- Line dry clothing. Rather than heating up your garage or laundry room by running the dryer, take advantage of the warm weather and line dry your clothes outside.
- Don’t cook indoors. Summer is the perfect time for grilling and it’s a great way to keep heat out of your house. If grilling isn’t an option, try using your microwave or set up your Crockpot or other electric appliances in your garage or somewhere else where they don’t heat up the house.
- Use heat-generating appliances only at night. Whether you need the oven, dryer or dishwasher, this is a great way to keep your home comfortable without having to crank the AC to compensate.
- If you live somewhere humid, invest in a dehumidifier. It will pull the moisture from your air (never use it at the same time as your air conditioner though), and since dry heat feels cooler than wet heat, your house will feel better inside. For the same reason, try to avoid doing laundry, dishes or taking warm showers during the daytime.
- Unplug unused electrical devices. If you aren’t using it, turn it off and unplug it to stop any unnecessary electric heat. Also, switch your incandescent lights to LEDs and fluorescent and be sure to turn off lights when they aren’t in use.
Image Via Ted Dani Percival
- Take advantage of the basement. You might reserve this underground area for storage, but it’s generally a good 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of the house, making it a perfect place to hide out during the peak of summer.
- Block out the sunlight. Try using thermal curtains or reflecting panels. Keep your windows and blinds closed during the day and open them up at night to let in the cold air. You might even put a box fan in your window at night to really take advantage of that cool air.
- Add awnings. The U.S. Department of Energy says that adding awnings to your south- and west-facing windows can reduce solar heat gain in a home by 77%. Also, if you need to replace your windows any time soon, be sure to get double-paned windows, which provide better insulation.
- Think before you plant. Landscaping can make a big impact on the temperature of your home, so plan things out based on your climate. Adding trees and trellises in front of your home’s southern- and western-facing sides will block the sun from heating your house directly. Also, minimize the amount of unshaded rocks, cement and asphalt you keep beside the house as these absorb head and pass it on to their surroundings.
Things to do with your body:
Image Via Louish Pixel [Flickr]
- Try taking a cool shower. Don’t make the water too cold or your body will work to heat you up. Lukewarm water will cool your body temperature 25 times faster than a blast of cold air from an air conditioner.
- Run your wrist under cool water for five seconds. One of your main veins is particularly close to the surface when it passes through your wrist, so cooling it down will spread the colder blood out throughout the rest of your body.
- Watch what you eat. Eat smaller meals scattered throughout the day and don’t eat too much protein all at once, digestion causes your metabolism to go up, making your body warmer –and protein takes a lot more effort to digest.
- Eat spicy food and drink hot liquids. Both of these things may seem counterintuitive, but they can actually cause sweating, which is the body’s most effective means of cooling.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. While you might crave a cool beer or Frappuccino in the heat, alcohol dehydrates you and caffeine increases your metabolic rate –meaning both will make you feel warmer in the long run.
Image Via yngiemanux [Flickr]
- Drink water. Staying hydrated will make you feel cooler. Adding mint or cucumber can help make the effect even more immediate. You can also spritz cool water on your face and body with a squirt bottle.
- Wear light clothing made from natural fibers. Thick and synthetic fabrics trap heat, making you feel warmer. Alternatively, if you feel comfortable cruising your house in the buff –do it! Just make sure your blinds are closed before you start hanging out in your birthday suit. For the same reason, don’t use synthetic pillows, pillowcases or sheets.
- Save your exercise for early morning or late night. Getting dehydrated and raising your body’s core temperature during the middle of the day is a great way to make yourself feel uncomfortable throughout the rest of the day. In fact, if you can get away with it, taking a nap in the middle of the day is a great way to escape the worst part of the heat.
- Apply a migraine patch to your forehead. These menthol products are designed to help sooth headaches, but they can also help cool your head when it’s too hot outside. You can also use cool cucumbers, but they won’t stick to your head as easily.
- Wrap a cold, wet towel around your neck. You might even want to keep a dry towel in the freezer for just such a purpose. Wrapping a wet bandana around your head can serve the same purpose if you don’t have a towel on hand.
Image Via Doug Brown [Flickr]
- Think about snow (or swimming pools). The mind is a powerful tool and studies show that thinking about cool stuff can actually make us feel less warm.
You can find a few additional suggestions to keep cool this summer in our round up of ways to make your home more eco-friendly.