The 100-degree weather is our new summer normal, and if you don’t have air conditioning or a heat pump – hint, hint – installed already, here are some tried and true tips on how to keep your home cooler. Some take a little prep and long-term planning, but others are easy to set up and start working right away:
Shade and ventilation: Use any naturally occurring shade to your advantage. Close curtains on windows facing the sun and do your best to block out direct sunlight. Consider thermal drapes to keep the heat out if your windows get very hot. In a pinch – though not quite as decorative – cover the panes with a piece of cardboard or hang a blanket in front of the window. Only open windows in the evening and early morning to let the cooler air in.
Create a cross-breeze: You can create a nice, cooling draft by strategically opening windows and doors on opposite sides of the house. If your home has several stories, remember that heat rises, so opening windows on the top floor will help pull hot air out of your home.
Use fans to circulate air: Ceiling and portable fans can help create a cooling breeze, even in the hottest room. If you place a bowl of ice cubes or frozen water bottles in front of a box fan on the floor, the breeze will feel even cooler.
Avoid Heat-Generating Activities: It’s important to avoid using the oven or stove, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Appliances such as dryers and dishwashers also generate heat, so run them in the evening. Cook outside if you can, and remember you can always hang your clothes to dry in the sun.
Cool yourself down: Heat stroke is real and should be taken very seriously. The best way to cool down an overheated person is to put cold, damp washcloths on the neck or wrists. Remember that children overheat more quickly than adults. Squeeze a frozen bottle between your chin and shoulder – like you would hold your phone – and it will help you cool down immediately.
Stay hydrated: While sodas and sports drinks are tempting, water is the best way to stay hydrated. Sorry, iced lattes don’t count toward your water intake.
Take care of your pets: Make sure your pets have plenty of fresh water throughout the day – especially if they are home alone. Indoor cats appreciate access to a cool corner under a bed or in a closet – dogs like to flop down on cold bathroom floors. If you can do so safely, leave a fan running when you aren’t home – your pets will appreciate it.
Insulation: A well-insulated home will prevent heat from seeping in during the day and retain a cooler temperature at night. Have a professional check ceiling insulation, and make sure there are no cracks around your doors and windows.
Install outside roller blinds: Outside curtains and blinds are more efficient at keeping your home cool than inside drapes. Consider covering your south-facing windows with shutters or blinds – modern roller blinds are weather-resistant and can last many years, especially if stored inside during winter.
Plant For Shade: Plant trees to create natural shade around your home. Vegetation absorbs heat, which will help keep the environment around your home cooler. Cement patios and landscape rock tend to retain heat long after the sun has shifted; that’s the opposite effect of what you are trying to create.
Install a heat pump: it will keep you nice and cool in the summer and warm and toasty in the winter.