I grew up in the ever hot and humid Sunshine State (aka Florida), where having central air conditioning is as common - and necessary - as owning a refrigerator. When I moved to New England, I quickly realized that beating the heat without 24/7 air conditioning running up the electricity bill is strictly a summertime challenge.
So as I sit here in the Northeast, dealing with cool, rainy spring days, I realize we are on the outskirts of the official start to summer. And around here, that means now’s time to start thinking about AC. Here are some tips compiled to help you prepare for hot summer weather and to help keep your house cool and comfortable:
Turn on the fans
This seems like a no-brainer, but there's a ceiling fan trick you might not know. According to Family Handyman, if you adjust the blades to turn counterclockwise in the summer, they'll push the cool air down to provide more relief from the heat. If your home isn’t equipped with a ceiling fan, consider installing them in your most-used spaces before the heat settles in.
Cover the windows
Block the sun from turning up in the heat inside with drapes, awnings, shutters and other window coverings. House Logic also recommends applying high-reflectivity window films to help regulate temperatures. If you have the budget for a long-term upgrade, consider investing in energy-efficient windows.
Upgrade your light bulbs
If you're using the wrong type of light bulb, you could be adding unnecessary heat to the room when the lights are on. Consider investing in energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs to reduce heat emission - and enjoy the bonus of lower electric bills. Even with energy-efficient bulbs, it still helps to keep the lights off as much as possible during the summer. The same goes for heat-emitting electronics and appliances.
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Plant some trees
You can also do some work outside to keep the inside of your home comfortably cool. Exterior trees and vines shade your home, preventing sunlight from burning through your windows and raising the temps inside. House Logic suggests boosting your greenery near west-facing walls, as the sun is strongest in that direction.
Seal the cracks
Hot air can get into your house through the windows, door frames, crawl spaces and other sneaky cracks. Consider scheduling a professional home energy audit to determine where your money is best spent on insulation and other solutions. Another quick fix is refreshing the caulking and weather stripping around your window and door frames to seal the cool air inside.
Freeze your sheets
This may be an unconventional hack - but it works wonders when it's too hot to sleep. Put your sheets in a plastic bag and leave them in the freezer for a few minutes before you go to bed. Sure they won't stay cold all night, but the chilly sheets will give you some immediate relief as you fall asleep.
Being prepared for emergency home repairs (including AC and cooling system breakdowns) is a smart strategy. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.