Summer is here, and who couldn’t use a few tips to keep their home cooler during the extreme heat? Sure, you can turn on the air conditioner — and you probably will. But you can do several other things to maximize your effort and take some of the burden off your AC. That’s what we’re going to cover in this article – how to keep the inside of your home cool even when it’s sweltering outside.
How to Prepare Your Home for a Heat Wave
The National Weather Service is projecting this summer to be one of the hottest in years. And down here in Texas and the rest of the south, we’re already feeling the heat. At best, these hot days are uncomfortable. But sometimes, they can even be dangerous, especially for residents who lack air conditioning. For those who do have AC, the cost of running it can easily get out of control. The following tips will help keep your home cool and comfortable while helping you save electricity and money on your cooling costs.
1. Have Your AC System Inspected
Running the air conditioner isn’t the only way to keep your home cool, but it’s the primary strategy for most people. So make sure you’re taking care of your AC systems and performing the appropriate periodic maintenance. While you might be able to clear leaves and debris from around the compressor or change filters, most of the other tasks like checking pressure levels, compressors, condensation lines, capacitors, and safety switches are generally better left to the professionals. They’ll also check for leaks and inspect the ductwork to ensure you’re prepared for the season. Ideally, late spring is a good time of year to have your system serviced and inspected so you’re ready for the heat, but even late is better than never.
2. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
As long as we’re talking about optimizing your AC system, one of the best ways to do that is by installing a programmable thermostat. Unlike the old, static, one-setting thermostats, programmable models are, well, programmable. So you can set it to adjust automatically when you’re home or away to keep your space cool without using more electricity than necessary.
3. Add to Your Insulation
The purpose of installing insulation in your attic and walls is to create a barrier that slows the float of heat. In the winter, it helps keep the heat in. And in the summer, it helps keep it out. So if your home doesn’t have enough insulation, your air conditioner will constantly be battling the elements. Make it a point to venture into your attic at least once a year to check the insulation. In general, you want ten to 15 inches of insulation covering everything. Sealing gaps and fortifying insulation will provide relief for your air conditioner, keep your home cooler, and reduce the amount of electricity the AC unit uses.
4. Seal Window & Door Gaps
A couple of the other most common areas for conditioned air to escape are gaps between windows and doors. Sometimes these can be remedied with tools like expanding foam, caulking, and weatherstripping. So after you’ve checked the insulation in the attic, take it a step further and go around the exterior of your home to check for additional leaks.
5. Replace Your Windows
Okay, this one is a biggie, but if you’re able, investing in new energy-efficient windows will make it much easier to stabilize the temperature inside your home. Double-pane windows trap heat in the space between the interior and exterior glass. And windows with a low emissivity rating are treated with transparent UV-blockers that reduce solar heat by half.
6. Adjust the Ceiling Fans
Many people don’t know this, but most ceiling fans have a switch that adjusts the direction of the blades. They can rotate air clockwise and counterclockwise, depending on which way you want the air to flow. During the summer, improve your ceiling fan’s efficiency by adjusting the blades so they turn counterclockwise and circulate cool air back downward.
7. Use Fans
Desk fans, box fans, oscillating fans, or even the cool new bladeless fans are super helpful for keeping the air flowing and helping you stay cool. Get a few fans and position them throughout your home in key areas. At the top or bottom of the steps, near AC registers, and, of course, directly in front of your favorite chair.
8. Run a Dehumidifier
You’ve probably heard people say, “It’s not the heat. It’s the humidity.” There’s a lot of truth to this. Humidity adds to the discomfort of extreme heat by making the air feel heavier and hotter than it is. You can defend against this in your home by simply running a dehumidifier. They’re small appliances that passively remove the moisture from the air. It won’t cool your home, but it’ll make it feel more comfortable than just using an AC alone.
9. Throw a Little Shade on the Sun
If sunlight comes through your windows, it will heat the inside of your home. The easiest and most obvious deterrent is simply closing the blinds and pulling the drapes to block it out. This alone can drop the temperature from ten to 15 degrees. Yeah, sitting in the dark can be a little bit of a drag, but it’s a super-effective way to beat the heat during the hottest times of day.
10. Upgrade Your Light Bulbs
If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, now is the time to upgrade to CFL or LED bulbs. Not only are they more energy-efficient, but they don’t generate nearly as much heat. Upgrading your light bulbs might not seem like much, but a 100-watt bulb can increase room temperature by as much as 11 degrees. And in triple-digit weather, every little bit helps.
11. Cook Less, Or Cook Outdoors
There’s nothing quite like a loaf of freshly baked bread, but the hot summer months can be an unappealing time to fire up the oven, thereby heating up your kitchen. Cook on the stovetop, choose recipes that don’t require much heat to prepare, or fire up the grill to minimize heat in your kitchen.
12. Stay Hydrated & Dress Comfortably
These are a little bit of a twist but consider them pro-tips in your quest to stay cool. First, stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking at least three to four liters per day. Not only is it one of the most important things for your health, but sipping on cool water will help keep your internal temperature lower. And it probably goes without saying, but wear lightweight fabric like cotton or bamboo when it’s hot.
Stay Cool With Energy Texas This Summer!
Staying cool during summer scorchers is possible, but it requires a little proactivity. As long as you’re making good decisions, why not make one more and jump on board the clean energy train? Our wind- and solar-powered electricity will provide all the power you need to keep your AC going through the hottest of days. Check out our plans to see the rates available in your area.