Beat the Heat: Summer Cooling Tips
During the hot summer months, many Ohioans look for ways to beat the heat. This fact sheet shares several ways you can keep your home cool and save money on your energy bills when it is hot outside.
Blocking heat from reaching the home
There are many ways to prevent the sun from heating up your home during the summer. These tips can keep you cool, while reducing air conditioning usage:
- Close blinds and drapes from mid-morning through the early evening.
- Install a plastic film that sticks to windows that block the heat while allowing light through. (Check your local hardware store)
- Seal air leaks around doors and windows to keep cool air inside. (Check your local hardware store)
- Plant trees around the home, especially on the southern and western facing sides.
Fans create a breeze that make you feel cooler. Using fans during mild weather and at night, instead of an air conditioner, can save up to 50 percent in cooling costs.
Also, running 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. Do not waste electricity, turn off fans when leaving a room. Fans do not cool homes; they only make you feel cooler.
Whole house fans
You can reduce the indoor temperature 3 to 8 degrees, depending on the outside temperature, 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 attic and roof vents. You should not use whole house fans while an air conditioner is in use. For the whole house fan to work properly, the house must have large attic vents and windows must be open for pressure relief.
Central Air conditioners
Central air conditioners are an easy, but expensive way to cool a home and are best used with other cooling methods.
When using an air conditioner, it does no good to set the thermostat lower than the desired temperature. The recommended temperature for saving money is 78 degrees. Raising the temperature five to seven degrees for eight hours can lower your household’s electric bill by as much as 10 percent. A smart Wi-Fi or non-Wi-Fi programmable thermostat makes it easier to program desired temperatures at certain times throughout the day.
To increase energy efficiency, be sure to purchase the correct size air conditioner for the space you will be cooling. In this case, bigger does not always equal better. If you buy an air conditioner that is bigger than you need, it can cost you more to run the unit, as well as being more expensive to purchase. An air conditioning unit that is too big will cycle on and off more frequently, causing the indoor temperature to fluctuate more, reducing the amount of moisture that is removed and creating a less comfortable climate.
Also, schedule an air-conditioner tune-up before each cooling season. On a monthly basis, or as often as recommended for the unit, it is also important to either clean or replace the filter. When buying a new air conditioner, look for an ENERGY STAR-rated unit and hire a qualified contractor to install it properly.
If your home does not have air conditioning, try visiting somewhere that does. On uncomfortably hot days, seek refuge at a local library, museum or shopping mall. Some communities offer cooling centers during extreme heat waves. Contact your county emergency management agency or local health department for locations.
Window air conditioners
As with central air conditioners, 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 you leave a room. You can reduce the amount of air that needs to be cooled by closing a room’s door and keeping windows closed.
A heat pump draws warm air from your home and releases it outdoors. It also dehumidifies the indoor air as it cools it. The cooled, dehumidified air is forced by a fan into your home’s duct system, which in turn circulates it throughout the home. To learn more about heat pumps, visit www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/heat-pumps.
Although dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, they cause heat to flow back into your home. Avoid using a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The air conditioner is already reducing humidity as it cools, and the dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder. To control moisture and reduce the need for a dehumidifier, keep your basement door closed if you have windows open. Also, when showering, use the bathroom ventilation fan and keep the door closed to vent the heat and humidity outside.
Keep heat producers away from your thermostat and turn off unnecessary heat-producing devices, such as incandescent and halogen light bulbs, appliances, and electronics. Use a microwave, slow cooker, air fryer, or indoor grill instead of a conventional oven. Do not use your dishwasher’s dry cycle; instead, let the dishes air dry. Wash and dry clothes when the day is cool, and air dry them when possible.
Other cool tips for you
Drink lots of water and wear short sleeved, loose, light-colored clothing. Take cooler showers and if you cannot get to a lake or local swimming pool, let a sprinkler water you and your plants. Do not send cool air up the chimney. If your fireplace has a glass door, shut it. A basement, which is often cooler than the rest of a house, might be the place to take refuge from the heat.
For information on energy efficiency, visit www.occ.ohio.gov/content/master-list-occ-fact-sheets#smart%20energy.
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