Beat the Heat: Summer Cooling Tips
Many Ohioans want to beat the heat during the hot summer months. This fact sheet shares several ways to help keep your home cool and save money on your energy bills when temperatures soar.
Prevent the sun from heating your home. These tips can help reduce air conditioning usage:
- Close window coverings during the day; or
- Install a special Low-E “low-emissivity” film to windows; and
- Seal leaks around doors and windows.
Trees planted around the home, especially on the southern and western-facing sides, can also help in the long term.
Moisture in the home can make it feel warmer. Relative humidity (RH) is a measure of both the air’s moisture and temperature. Hygrometers measure RH, which should ideally be between 30-50 percent in the home. Managing your home’s humidity can make you feel more comfortable and reduce air conditioning usage. Avoid adding moisture to the home when possible. One way is to use exhaust fans for no longer than 20 minutes after cooking or bathing.
Although dehumidifiers remove moisture, they also create heat. You should usually avoid using a dehumidifier in the same room that an air conditioner is operating. To control moisture and reduce the need for a dehumidifier, keep your basement door closed if you have windows open.
Limit heat producers and keep them away from your thermostat. Turn off unnecessary heat-producing devices, such as some light bulbs, appliances, and electronics. Use a microwave, slow cooker, air fryer, or an outdoor grill instead of a conventional oven. Do not use your dishwasher’s dry cycle and instead let the dishes air dry. Use the dishwasher and do laundry after the sun has set. Air dry clothes outside to avoid adding humidity.
Fans create a breeze that can make you feel cooler when humidity is low. Using fans during mild weather and at night, instead of an air conditioner, can save on cooling costs. Also, fans can make it easier for air conditioner users to adjust the thermostat up a few degrees to reduce energy use. In the summer, ceiling fan blades should move in a counterclockwise direction so air blows toward the floor. Turn off fans when leaving a room. Fans cool you in low humidity, not your home.
Whole house fans
Reduce the indoor temperature by a few degrees by using a whole house or attic fan. It is best to use whole-house fans during cooler times of the day or at night. A whole house fan pulls in air from open windows and exhausts warm air out through the properly sized attic and roof vents. You should not use whole-house fans while using an air conditioner. For the whole house fan to work properly, the house needs large attic vents and windows must be open for pressure relief.
Central air conditioners
Central air conditioners are an easy but more costly way to keep your home cool during the hot summer months. It is best used with other cooling methods (see above). To save money, it’s best to set the thermostat to 78 degrees. Raising the temperature five to seven degrees for eight hours can lower an electric bill by up to 10 percent a year. A programmable or a smart thermostat that allows you to program desired temperatures throughout the day can make it easier.
Regular maintenance, like tune-ups and filter cleaning or replacement, will improve energy efficiency. When buying an AC unit, make sure it’s the right size for your home. Bigger isn’t always better as it can lead to higher costs and less comfort. Look for units with ENERGY STAR ratings and have them installed by a qualified professional.
If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, you can seek refuge from the heat at a public indoor place during extreme heat waves. Some communities offer cooling centers during extreme heat. Contact your county emergency management agency or local health department for locations.
Window air conditioners
As with central air, it is important to conduct annual maintenance before each cooling season and clean or replace filters monthly. Refer to the manual for proper maintenance. Turn off or reduce settings when leaving a room. Close the room’s door and keep windows closed to reduce the amount of air that needs cooled.
Heat pumps draw warm air from the home, releases it outdoors and dehumidifies and cools indoor air. This air is then forced by a fan into the duct system and is circulated throughout the home. Programmable thermostats are generally not recommended for heat pumps. To learn more about heat pumps, visit www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/heat-pumps.
More cooling tips
Try these additional tips to help keep you cool:
- Drink lots of water;
- Wear short-sleeved, loose, light-colored clothing;
- Take cool showers;
- Considering going to a lake or local swimming pool or use a yard sprinkler; and
- Keep cool air from escaping up the chimney by closing fireplace doors or using a chimney balloon or flue plug.
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