Summertime may be a season of joy and warm golden afternoons, but it’s also a time of high power bills as your air conditioner struggles to keep the house cool. Rising energy bills are particularly challenging for landlords renting vacation homes, where guests’ energy-intensive behavior is more likely to drive up electricity costs.
Fortunately, there are ways for landlords and tenants alike to stay cool as the weather heats up in the summer months. From home improvements to using your fans and curtains correctly, you can keep the summer heat outside the house while circulating cool air indoors.
Here are 25 tips and tricks to keep your home cool this summer.
- Keeping your house cool saves electricity and money all summer
- Sealing and insulating your home to keep the heat out and the cold in
- Air quality and air movement increase summer comfort
Seal the Exterior
Sealing up and insulating is the most effective method to keep your house cool in the summer. You want to keep warm air from getting in, keep cold air from getting out, and prevent heat from transferring through the materials of your home through insulation.
This can be done with several home improvement projects ranging from easy DIY to professional repairs and renovations.
1. Re-Caulk Loose Windows
With nothing more than a caulk gun and a sealant tube, you can seal up rattling windows and cracked window frames to stop unwanted air transfer. Double-paned windows that rattle provide extra insulation once resealed but will need full window replacement to regain the full effect of gas-insulated windows.
2. Replace Weather Stripping Around Exterior Doors
Exterior doors are sealed with weather stripping, flexible strips of rubber, and fabric that seal the doors when closed and flex so the doors can open. These strips wear out and must be replaced every 2-5 years, so you may lose AC through leaks and not realize that your weather stripping is old. It’s a simple project to remove old weatherstripping and attach new strips to each external door.
3. Have Your Siding Inspected and Repaired
Gaps or damage to your external structure can also let hot air in or cold air out. Have your siding inspected for damage and repaired if necessary. Seal gaps or cracks in your home’s interior structure to keep your AC inside instead of escaping into the hot spaces between the walls.
4. Upgrade Your Insulation
If you’re looking for a project that will significantly improve your home’s cool in the summer and warmth in the winter, upgrade your insulation. You can better insulate the attic easily and add better insulation between the walls whenever a renovation is underway. This will prevent heat, cold, and even sound from transmitting between the walls and floors of your home.
Take Care of Your Air Conditioner
The performance of your air conditioner is crucial to evenly distributing cool air through your home and minimizing the energy bill. However, most people don’t think much about their HVAC units even when the power bills rise and their home struggles to stay cool.
You can improve the performance and efficiency of your air conditioning unit for a cooler summer experience in several ways.
5. Change Your Air Filter
Changing the air filters is the first and easiest way to maintain your air conditioner. Filters must be changed every one to three months, depending on your system, region, and dust sources (like pets) inside the house. When your air filter is clogged, your AC loses efficiency. Changing AC filters regularly will improve airflow and keep your air conditioner in good condition.
6. Optimize with a Smart Thermostat
Programming your thermostat is one of the best ways to keep the house cool and efficient at the same time. If everyone leaves during the day, you can set your thermostat to warm up while the house is empty and start cooling just before you get home.
Cool the house down efficiently at night and choose a tolerable medium temperature during the day. Smart thermostats can even adapt to peak hours and help you to balance cooling cycles with your daily schedule.
7. Clear Debris from the Outside AC Unit
If you want to improve efficiency from the outside in, check on the outdoor unit of your AC system. Clear away any brush and debris from the vents and, if you see any dented fins or a great deal of dirt buildup, a technician can sort it out for you.
8. Book Your Annual HVAC Maintenance & Cleaning
Speaking of HVAC technicians, every HVAC system needs an annual maintenance visit for cleaning, tune-up, and potential repairs. Book yours in the springtime before the heat of summer whenever possible, or in the middle of summer if your AC is not as efficient as it should be. A quick tune-up can significantly improve your AC unit’s performance and energy efficiency.
9. Have Your Ducts Cleaned
Dust builds up inside ducts just like it does on your air filter. Dirty ducts can cause slower airflow and more dust/allergen redistribution through the house. Cleaning your ducts will improve cooling efficiency and indoor air quality for the next two or three years before it’s time for another cleaning.
Improve Air Flow
Air circulation is essential to feel cool and warm your home in searing heat.
Proper ventilation in the attic and airflow in your living spaces can maximize the effect of your AC, cooling the house more evenly and preventing heat from building up where you don’t want it.
10. Make Sure the Attic Is Ventilated
Attic ventilation matters more than most people realize. With the simple air movement through your attic, you can prevent heat from building below your roof and transferring into the rest of the house through the ceiling. Proper attic insulation and a few vents can keep much hot air outside the house.
11. Switch Ceiling Fans to Spin Counter-Clockwise
Ceiling fan direction determines what kind of air circulation they provide. Clockwise spin helps to stir warm air during the winter.
Rotating counterclockwise in the summer will create a cool breeze that will keep your home cool without cranking up the AC to low temperatures. Climb up to each of your ceiling fans and flip the switch on the side of the central mechanism. Set the fan at its lowest setting and stand below to determine if the blades are turning in the correct direction.
12. Keep Interior Doors Open
While you want to keep your exterior doors and windows shut tight, the doors inside the home should remain open. This promotes even air circulation through the house and makes the best use of your AC cooling vents in each room for an even, comfortable temperature throughout.
Open doors can make a big difference for fresh air and gentle air circulation if your rooms feel stuffy in the summer.
13. Place Floor Fans in Key Locations
You can also feel cooler and increase your AC’s effectiveness with a few strategically placed floor fans.
Fans at the top or bottom of the stairs, at the end of hallways, and blowing through open living spaces can help circulate AC and create a pleasantly cooling breeze within your home. You can adjust the fan speed according to the temperature outside, going at top speed during the hottest part of the day.
Keep Out the Sunshine
Your home absorbs heat in the summer not just from the air but also from the sun’s rays. The more sunlight hits the house, the warmer your home will become.
Therefore, preventing sunshine from hitting your home’s roof, windows, and walls can save money and help you keep cool by keeping that ambient heat outdoors.
14. Hang the Right Summer Curtains
First, protect your windows from the sun’s heat pouring in. Light-colored curtains reflect light instead of absorbing it, while cellular or insulated shades create a barrier of air that prevents heat from coming directly indoors.
In extreme heat, insulated window film or even a reflective film can significantly reduce the sun’s heat through your windows. If you like traditional draperies, use the decorative filmy white curtains facing the outside to deflect light while using heavier and darker colored drapes over these indoors. Or you can choose blackout curtains that block sunlight completely and can even reduce noise coming from outside.
15. Encourage Leafy Tree Growth
Trees over your house can keep your house noticeably cooler because you are exposed to far less direct sunlight. If you have tall trees, allow them to grow shadily over your home. If you don’t have a tree, planting a fast-growing canopy tree now can save your money in summer cooling bills in just a few years of growth.
16. Mount Awnings Over Windows
Even without tree cover, you can reduce the heat that hits your home with a few simple awnings. Combining awnings on the outside with the right curtains on the inside is a great way to make sure your windows, especially your south-facing windows, do not become a major source of summer heat.
Awnings or shade sails deflect sunshine onto a thin mesh or canvas fabric instead of allowing the sunlight to make it to your windows or siding.
Reduce Indoor Heat
Producing less indoor heat is another great way to keep your house cool during summer. You might be surprised to learn just how many ways your home produces unwanted heat and how cool it will feel when you make a few changes.
17. Skip Oven Meals – Barbeque Outdoors
Try to minimize the amount you use the oven and stove when preparing summer meals. The oven, especially, generates a great deal of heat which is nice in the winter but can be sweltering in the summer. Don’t make your AC work to remove that heat. Instead, take your cooking outdoors to enjoy more summer grilling and barbecues, where the heat will naturally dissipate into the breeze.
18. Take Cool Refreshing Showers
Hot showers also aren’t a necessity most of the time. Not only can you avoid getting your bathroom muggy with steam, but a lukewarm shower is nicely refreshing during a hot summer day. Find the perfect setting for your shower knobs to achieve just the right temperature for midday showers and save the hot showers for late at night when the air has cooled down, and your vent will be more effective.
19. Run the Big Appliances at Night
Large appliances also generate a surprising amount of waste heat. Consider running your laundry machines and dishwasher in the evening to avoid building up the heat indoors during hot summer days. Turn off your dishwasher’s hot drying cycle and open the door to let your dishes dry naturally, especially saving your heated dryer cycles for after dark.
20. Switch Off Unused Appliances
You can even reduce the ambient electrical heat of a modern household by fully switching off appliances when they are not in use. Use power strips to disconnect items like your television that may hum in ‘standby’ mode when officially switched off and turn off warm computer screens during the day to reduce the heat they add to your home interior.
21. Take Control of Your Humidity
Humidity also greatly affects whether your home feels cool during the summer. If the air is too muggy, heat will not dissipate, and a dehumidifier is an answer. If the air is too dry, the air may feel stale and hot, and the mist from a cool humidifier will be refreshing.
Keep Your Body Cool
Lastly, you can increase the perceived efficiency of your home cooling by treating yourself the right way during the summer. Keep your body cool with light clothing, light breezes, and the right bedding to feel cool even as the summer temperatures rise.
22. Wear Light, Breezy Clothing
Switch to summer clothing and experiment with light, breezy styles. Make sure your clothes are made of breathable materials—even t-shirts and tanks can be too heavy in the summer if made incorrectly. Consider wearing shorts or skirts more often and swap out your heavy winter socks for light synthetic socks.
Every little bit counts to reduce body heat. You may even want to switch your hairstyle to keep a breeze flowing over your ears and the back of your neck where heat tends to be trapped by winter styles.
23. Switch to Percale Weave Sheets & a Light Blanket
Hot sleeping is the bane of warm summer nights. Sleep cooler with the right bedding and bedroom setup. Swap out those flannel sheets for a light and cooling percale weave. Switch your favorite comforter for a light microfiber blanket or a cotton quilt. If you have trouble sleeping with summer-weight bedding, use a weighted blanket that is also breathable, and consider adding a ceiling fan to your bedroom for airflow and white noise.
24. Create a Misting Fan
During the day, add a little “misting” to a fan or two. Misting is when a fan blows small droplets of water that evaporate off your skin to help you keep cool. Place a block of ice before a fan or spritz clean water from a spray bottle into the fan’s breeze to help yourself, and others stay cool.
25. Cool Down at Night
Cool your house at night when the sun is down, and heat dissipates from the outside air. A cooler nighttime temperature will help you sleep better, and cooling is more efficient during breezy summer evenings. If your region’s weather is right, you might switch to fan-only and open the windows to welcome cooler night air.
Staying Comfortable with Cooling Summer Tips
These tips can help anyone keep their home cool during the summer, whether you are cooling the family home or maintaining a comfortable vacation rental property as part of your investment portfolio.
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