Remember during the winter when you longed for those 80 to 90-degree days of summer? Well, summer has come and has met and even exceeded those temperatures in many areas and—let’s face it—it’s miserable. The only thing that’s worse than the sky-high temperatures are the astronomically high air conditioning bills. Fortunately there are things that you can do not only for yourself but also for your home to make things more comfortable. Read on for ways to beat the heat with these five home improvements.
1. Install and Mind the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans
The ceiling fan is your best friend during the summer so if you haven’t had those installed in the hottest rooms in your house, do so right away. If you already have them, what you might not know is that you’re likely not getting the biggest advantage out of yours if you’re not adjusting them seasonally. Set them to run counter-clockwise in the summer at a higher speed, as this will create a pleasant wind-chill effect.
2. Make the Most of Your Windows
If you’re trying to save on air conditioning you likely already have most if not all of your windows open. However, you can be even more strategic about it than this. As this Huffington Post article notes, “To create a cooling pressure current, open the top section of windows on the downwind side of your house, and open the bottom section of windows on the upwind side.” The article also suggests facing a fox fan out one window in order to push the hot air out while hanging a wet sheet in front of another window to invite a chilly breeze. If none of these seem to work, try insulated window films, which are similar to blinds. Of course, you want to make sure to keep blinds closed during the day. You might also consider putting an awning on a patio and even planting a tree in front of windows that get a lot of sun.
3. Ensure Your Air Conditioning is Working Optimally
Some days there’s just no avoiding turning on the air conditioning, even when you’ve designed your home for maximum coolness. And many homes can’t keep windows open at night due to security systems. However, there are things you can do to keep the A/C bills down even when in use. If you’ve lived in a home with no air conditioning and have decided that enough is enough, make sure that you buy an air conditioner that is properly sized for your home. As Frontier Properties CEO Nick Evans will tell you, this is a vital consideration for their company when they are installing an air conditioning unit in one of their homes. As he says, “It’s so important to make sure you’ve got the appropriate size for an air conditioning unit that you might even consider getting an A/C contractor or energy auditor to evaluate. We always do this to ensure maximum efficiency.”
Air conditioners also have energy efficiency ratings (EERs), so make note of these. The EER for room air conditioners should be above 10. For central air conditioners, seek out ones with ratings above 12.
If you’ve had an air conditioning unit for a while now but suspect its working up to its potential, go for an upgrade. If not, you might consider replacing the outdoor compressor for your central air conditioner with a more modern, high-efficiency unit. Be sure that it is properly matched with your indoor unit.
4. Fight the Humidity
If you live in a state like Arizona, you at least benefit from a dry heat. However, other states aren’t so lucky. If you live in a place with high humidity, you often feel even hotter and, frankly, more disgusting due to sweat and stickiness. Get a dehumidifier and choose sheets that are breathable to keep you cool. Some people will even put sheets in the freezer before bed. Hey, whatever works!
5. Use High Efficiency Lighting and Natural Light
Take advantage of natural light as much as possible. As this CommonSenseHome.com article notes, “A traditional 1oo watt light bulb can increase the heat by 11 degrees per hour in a small room.” 11 degrees is quite a considerable amount, so go for LED light bulbs instead. Some utility companies will even offer rebates for homes that use these instead of traditional light bulbs.
Try these five home improvements and watch your temperatures and air conditioning bills go down in no time.