Thank you, Amy, for another informative article for The Whole Hearted Parenting blog!
By Amy Williams
Most people look forward to summer as a time to be outside, enjoying the breeze or a variety of many outdoor activities. This is especially after being cooped up all winter, so the summer season is quite literally a breath of fresh air! However, many people dread the summer for one simple reason: it’s too hot! And while this can be tolerable for short periods of time outdoors, no one wants to come inside to a muggy or sticky house, much less spend much time there. So, for those without air conditioning or those who use theirs only sparingly, follow these simple tips and tricks to keep the house cool this summer, without dramatically increasing the electricity bill.
Simple Fixes to Cool the Home
There are many small ways to cool a home that are completely free! For example, open the windows of the home on two opposite sides of the house to facilitate a cross-breeze. Another idea is to close the blinds to prevent sunlight and excess heat from entering the house through the windows. Consider investing in blackout curtains to insulate the home against both heat and cold. Another easy way to keep cool is to switch out the bedsheets every season. While flannels and warmer fabrics are great for the winter, a cooler material like cotton or silk will help lower the body temperature overnight. Additionally, change the settings on overhead fans so that they rotate counter-clockwise during the summer. For some reason, this rotation speed is slightly faster than the clockwise motion, so a breeze will move through the home more quickly.
When Using Appliances
There is a reason that so many people grill during the summer. Using the oven or stove is a great way to heat the house, which is something most people prefer to avoid during this time of year. When cooking indoors, turn on the exhaust fan over the stove to circulate some of the excess heat and avoid making the kitchen feel like a sauna. Apply a similar strategy to the bathroom. Turn on the fan when taking a shower or using hot water for an extended period of time. The fan will suck the hot air out of the room and distribute it more evenly, eventually moving it entirely out of the home. Lastly, invest in fluorescent light bulbs. Incandescent light emits roughly 90% of its energy through heat, so not only do these lights burn out faster than fluorescent bulbs, but they also incrementally heat the home, something to be avoided during the summer months.
Although an obvious topic for cooling the home, there are some changes that can be made to the air conditioning unit or thermostat itself to help reduce its cost of running. For example, if the unit is more than seven to ten years old, consider replacing it with an up-to-date energy efficient model. The newer unit will be gentler on the environment and many are even customizable for maximum indoor climate control. While any thermostat will allow the temperature to be manipulated, some devices can be put on a timer so that instead of cooling the home when no one is around, it starts running just before its owner returns home. In this way, homeowners walk into a cool house without having to pay to cool it all day long.
Other Helpful Ideas
Some days, however, the heat is just unbearable, and it seems as if nothing can be done to lower the temperature. While this may be true, focus less on cooling the home and more on cooling the body. Drink cold drinks and stick a frozen bottle of water at the foot of the bed to cool off the sheets. Many people also advocate for lightly dampening the sheets with a spray bottle of cool water just a few minutes before crawling under them. This can also be helpful for parents who may need a quick way to cool their little one’s down during the warmer months.
Overall, keeping the house cool during the summer months can seem like an insurmountable challenge. This is especially the case when the heat makes people feel sticky, sluggish, and irritable. However, by following the simple steps, the house will quickly become cooler and you can finally do what you’ve been wanting to do all summer long—relax and stay cool.