Keeping cool during the summer heat always presents a big problem. After all, buildings absorb heat all day long and then release that stored energy at night. With all that heat energy, keeping the living space of your home cool can get expensive (even if you keep your air conditioner set above 76 oF – or 24 oC).
Try these six trendy tips to cool your home in summer without over-heating your family or energy bill.
1) Cool Your Skin
The human body cools itself effectively by allowing moisture to evaporate from the skin. So it makes sense to help your skin do its thing. If you’re feeling hot, cool down with a cool shower — try it before bedtime, too.
Remember that the breeze from ceiling fans makes it feel cooler due to evaporation of sweat from your skin. Turning them off when you leave the room will help lower your energy costs because they don’t thermally affect the air in your home.
Trendy Tip — Wear cool, lightweight clothes made from organic fabrics such as cotton and linen. (At last! A reason to go shopping!)
2) Keep South- and West-Facing House Curtains Drawn
Find ways to prevent the hot sun from heating up rooms and the rest of your home. Install insulated or thermal-backed drapes to block out the sun and cut heat gain to a room by 33%. The drapes also break up convection air currents in a room and help keep it cooler.
3) Plant Trees and Shrubs to Shade Your House and Driveway
Shrubs, bushes, flower beds, and other landscaping features in your yard can help create the effects of a moderate micro-climate. They can shade your yard, which keeps air surrounding your home cooler. Planting bushes near your home can also retain night-cooled air longer. Careful plantings and shade around your home’s air conditioner can increase its efficiency by as much as 10%.
Trees along your home’s southern and southwestern sides provide afternoon shade from summer sun. Computer simulations run by the US Forest Service showed just placing two 25-foot tall trees on the western and eastern aspects of a home reduces the heat load and saves 23% off the yearly utility bill.
Trendy Tip — The landscaping trend for shade trees right now favors a new disease-resistant American elm tree called “St. Croix.” At 60 to 75 tall, it can help cool homes in zones 3-6.
4) Create an Evening Cross Breeze
Set some fans in windows to blow air in and others to blow it out. Cross breezes will circulate cool air in your home. Try this method:
- Early in the morning, close up all the windows.
- Most homes will remain cool (depending on insulation on sun exposure) until early to mid-afternoon.
- At the end of they day, open windows and set up the fans again.
Trendy Tip — Those big window fans used to come in two colors: boring tan and white. Now, a festival of colors is available, from cobalt blue to hot pink.
5) Use Your Appliances at Night
Appliances like ovens, ranges, dryers, and dishwashers all add to your home’s cooling load. Waiting until nightfall when it is cooler outside will reduce the amount of heat that can get trapped in your home.
Trendy Tip — Use LED lights. Incandescent bulbs convert 90% of electrical energy into waste heat. LEDs give off hardly any heat by converting most of their energy into light.
6) Ventilate Your Attic
Your attic is a heat shield. During the summer, attic temperatures can climb to 150°F. Much of that heat will move down into the living space via conduction, which is part of the reason upper floors get so warm. Most attics are designed to circulate air in ways that allow moisture to escape the structure and to help cool the living structure and the roof deck.
To do this, attics need to have adequate ventilation. Gable fans and venting fans do provide effective attic ventilation, but they’ll only work properly if they pull in enough air through the eaves soffit. The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) recommends a minimum of one square foot of soffit venting area for an air change of 300 cubic feet/minute (CFM).
Trendy Tip — Many newer gable and roof vent fans use low-voltage solar powered motors. There’s no complicated wiring, so installation is easy. Installing new roof vent fans, however, can be tricky because you will need to cut a hole in your roof.
Do you have any helpful suggestions to cool your home in summer? Share with us in the comments!