This area of Colorado can reach 90 degrees for part of each summer, with humidity above 50 percent. For most of us, that means air conditioning is a necessity. But what if you live in an older home that doesn’t have central air conditioning or find yourself dealing with a power outage on a hot summer day?
Here are 10 simple ways to stay cooler without air conditioning.
Many people who reside in a home with ceiling fans are not aware that they have two settings: clockwise, and counter-clockwise. Setting the blades to rotate clockwise in the winter pulls cooler air upward and pushes warm air downward to help you stay comfortable in the winter months. Setting them to turn counter-clockwise pulls warmer air upward and pushes cooler air downward to cool you down in warmer months.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by using counter-clockwise ceiling fans, you can raise your thermostat by 4 degrees Fahrenheit without any change in comfort, saving on cooling costs.
Left uncovered during the heat of the day, windows let in a considerable amount of heat. Closing your curtains to block out sunlight can be a very effective way to lower the temperature in your home.
Consumer Reports recommends the use of curtains in neutral colors that have an opaque white backing (such as white plastic), which can reduce heat gain by as much as 33 percent. Blackout window shades are another effective choice.
Another option is to install window film. This is a thin laminate that is applied on the glass itself (inside or outside) to help cut energy costs and improve privacy while still allowing light to pass through. Window film can reduce infrared heat by up to 98 percent compared to unprotected windows.
It just makes sense that in the evenings, when outdoor temperatures are cooler, opening your windows is a good way to cool your home by allowing cooler air to come inside. However, during the day, you want to do exactly the opposite. It may seem counterintuitive, but during the daytime, when it’s hotter outside than inside, it’s best to keep windows closed (and covered – see #2, above).
With the windows closed, keep air circulating with the use of ceiling fans (see #1, above) or portable fans positioned near the floor to push cooler air upward.
Create a breeze through your home by opening windows specifically to capture wind coming toward you (the downwind side). Then open a window on the upwind side to allow air to flow outward, creating a natural breeze. To strengthen the breeze, you can use a window fan facing inward on the downwind side of your home to pull air inside, and a window fan facing outward on the upwind side to push air outside.
Humidity (moisture in the air) makes hot air feel more oppressive. Skin feels sticky and the air feels heavy and harder to breathe. Some people liken the feel of very humid air to having a hot blanket laid on top of them. People who live in desert locales say that their dry air doesn’t feel as hot as the same temperature elsewhere.
Removing moisture from the with the use of dehumidifier can make being in an uncooled house noticeably more comfortable.
If your kitchen and bathroom have exhaust fans or vents, turn them on at least during the higher heat of the day. They will help suck hot, humid air out of the house.
Some homeowners use whole-house fans, which are mounted in the ceiling to pull in cooler air from open windows and doors and push hotter air out through the attic vents. However, these must be sealed when not in use or they can actually increase heating and cooling costs.
Incandescent bulbs emit heat, wasting an estimated 90 percent of the energy they use. Switching to compact fluorescent bulbs can help keep your home cooler while also lowering your electricity bill. Here’s an informative guide to replacing your incandescent lighting.
Whether doing the laundry or running the dishwasher, save chores that use heated water or air until the evening hours. If you have baking to do, save it for the nighttime. If you can, avoid using your oven or stove altogether on hot days by grilling outdoors, enjoying cold meals such as salads and deli sandwiches, picking up take-out for dinner, or heading to a favorite restaurant.
Natural fibers are the most breathable. If you don’t already use cotton sheets, you will find them cooler to sleep on during the warmer months. There are also specially-manufactured moisture-wicking sheets, made of various nature-based materials such as woven bamboo, for those who routinely sweat while sleeping.
Drinking fluids, particularly water, helps regulate body temperature and can help you feel cooler even if they are at room temperature. Needless to say, cold drinks work even better at helping you cope with warmer temperatures, indoors or out.
Indoor Air Quality, Inc. has served Highlands Ranch and the Denver Metro Area for more than 20 years. Check out our customer testimonials, contact us, or use our online contact form for more information and a free quote.