Keeping Your House Cool without Cranking Up the AC

Air conditioning is perhaps the biggest electricity hog in any home, especially during summer and in hot and humid parts of the country. Hot weather can be bad for the health and can affect one’s mood and productivity, which is why most people don’t hesitate to turn on their air conditioners. It’s the convenience of modern life, after all. Plus, not everyone has the luxury of a breezy backyard or pool to cool off and sip lemonades.

However, it is possible to stay comfortable indoors during hot summer days without cranking up your AC. And you don’t need to break down your walls, install new systems, or spend money on renovations. Try low-cost but high-impact tips first:

1. Install window treatments 

blinds curtains

Most of the unwanted heat during the day comes from your windows. To avoid getting baked during the summer, install heat-blocking window treatments such as blinds and curtains, coupled with external treatments such as shutters and retractable window awnings. To keep your house from feeling like a cave, you can opt to close the ones on west- and south-facing windows. This way, you’d still be able to enjoy natural light. This simple and inexpensive technique can lower your home’s internal temperature by 20 percent.

2. Improve natural ventilation 

Ventilation or airflow is the key to keeping cool during hot days. If you have windows and doors opposite each other, keep these open to create a cross-breeze zone. Even when it’s not breezy outside, this can help push the warm air outside and keep your home from being stuffy. You can also use a fan to improve airflow. But if it’s too hot outside, it would be best to keep your windows and doors shut.

3. Install new insulation

If you’re looking for a long-term solution, installing insulation should be on your priority list. Insulation is not just for cold weather. It helps prevent hot outside air from seeping into your home, as well. If your attic, roof, and walls aren’t properly insulated, it will cause your AC to work harder during warmer days, driving up your utility bills.

3. Plant tall shrubs and trees near windows

Shade plants can be a natural and attractive window treatment to keep your house cool during summer. Areas near west and south-facing windows can get quite hot in summer, but a bit of shade can help disperse this heat and reduce the harsh light coming from that direction.

4. Get houseplants 

Indoor plants are a cheap and eco-friendly way to improve your home’s air quality and keep it cool during hot summer days. They keep the surrounding environment cool and moist through a process called transpiration. And when put beside windows, they help block heat from the sun too. Some of the best indoor plants to have during a heatwave include ficus elastica (rubber plant), ficus benjamina, palms, Chinese evergreen, and mother-in-law’s tongue.

5. Maintain your AC unit 

woman air-conditioning unit

When hot days come around, it’s important to optimize your AC for maximum performance. Clean or change your AC’s filters regularly to make sure you’re getting clean air at all times. Avoid installing window-type units in west or south-facing walls as the harsh heat may cause your unit to work harder or overheat.

6. Cook outside or at night 

Barbecues in the backyard are a summer event for a reason. Cooking indoors during the day in summer will turn your house into an oven. If possible, use your grill for cooking instead, or prepare your meals during the evening when it’s much cooler. This also goes for chores that require appliances that release heat, like dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers.

7. Keep your furnace fan on 

Furnace fans push hot air out during winter, so they should provide the same benefits during summer. It’s recommended that you keep them on during a heatwave and scorching days to keep your AC from overworking itself.

8. Keep your body cool

In addition to space cooling, you should also do ways to cool your body so that you don’t always rely on electricity. Ditch that steamy shower and use cold water, instead. Plus, hot showers can release steam, which can increase the temperature of the surrounding area, as well. And be sure to wear light, breathable, and comfortable clothes and fabrics.

Cranking up your air conditioning throughout the summer can drive up your utility bills. Plus, on a bigger scale, relying on your AC is bad for the environment and contributes to higher outside temperatures. Follow these tips to beat the heat and enjoy lower electricity bills.

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