10 Tips for Cooling Your Home During the Heat Wave

Just when you think it can’t get any hotter….it does! Wow, what a week throughout the Northeast for near-record high temperatures. If you have central air conditioning, it’s getting put to good use but for those who don’t have it or if you’re looking to cut down on energy costs, here’s 10 tips to help you stay comfortable.

1. Open Your Windows
Watch for the temperature to drop at night. If it drops below the inside temperature, try opening your windows to get some fresh air in the house. There’s nothing like a gentle breeze blowing through the house after it has been closed up all day. However, if the temperature doesn’t drop….move on to Tip #2!

2. Turn On the Ceiling Fans
While a ceiling fan won’t make your room cooler, it will definitely make it feel cooler by speeding sweat evaporation and they cost far less to run than your air conditioner. If you don’t have ceiling fans already, they’re not very hard to install – check out your local home improvement store.

Once your fans are in, make sure the fan is set to spin in the correct direction: You want the air blowing down in summer and up in winter. If you’re not sure which way the air is moving, look at the blades as they spin: If the leading edge is higher than the trailing, it is pushing the air down.

3. Put In an Attic Fan
This one may require some professional assistance. An attic van gives you the combined benefits of moving air (like a ceiling fan) and pulling in the cooler air from outside. Of course, a prerequisite for running this is opening your windows, so the best thing is wait until after dusk to open your windows and then set the timer to run at least until after you’re deep asleep. It’s an investment that can easily pay for itself in a couple of years.

4. Shut the Blinds and Keep the Curtains Drawn
On hot summer days, the sun is your worst enemy. The last thing you want to do is have your air conditioner running full blast to offset the increase heat from the sunlight pouring in your windows.

5. Run Your Furnace Fan
Many thermostats will allow you to run the fan without initiating the furnace or air conditioner. By turning on your furnace fan, you cause the air to be circulated throughout the house, balancing out any cold or hot spots so that you whole house feels more comfortable.

6. Install a Programmable Thermostat
It doesn’t make much sense to cool your home while you’re gone, but it’s hard to remember to adjust your thermostat every day before you leave for work. Program your thermostat to go up by five degrees about 30 minutes or so before you leave and have it come back to your “normal” temperature a half-hour before you return.

7. Close Unused Vents
I don’t know about your house or apartment, but there are some infrequently-used rooms in our house. If you’re not going to be in a particular room very much or very often, consider closing the vent in that room so you’re not cooling dead space. That will cause more air to come out of the other open vents, potentially allowing you to add some cooling to a room that wasn’t getting it otherwise.

8. Turn Off the Lights
This isn’t really a suggested limited to summer, but it’s most appropriate now that it’s heating up. If you don’t need a light on, turn it off! All light bulbs generate heat as a byproduct of producing light. Also helpful – unplug unused appliances which also give off heat.

9. Hold Off On Cooking
Try to avoid using your stove and oven as much as possible. Turning the stove on while your air conditioner is running wastes money. Turning the stove on when you don’t have air conditioner is going to add to the heat in the house. Try easy to prepare recipes that are chilled or don’t require heat. Or better yet, go out to eat in a nice cool, air conditioned restaurant!

10. Go Underground
Basements can easily be 10 degrees cooler than the first floor. Finishing space to hang out in during the hot days of summer may be a great investment in terms of not only your comfort but helping with resale value down the road.

Most important during these hot days, increase your fluid intake and take it easy!

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