Filed under Beat the Texas Heat
Keep Your Home Cool
Summer has plenty of pleasures to enjoy — but those sweltering, steam bath-like dog days? Not so much. Here, stress-free ways to keep your home cool — without sending your electric bill soaring
Need to cool it now? Here’s strategies for surviving a hot spell:
1. Smart Ways to Save on the AC
Set the thermostat at 70° to 75°F when you’re home, 80°F when you’re not; don’t turn it off completely before leaving the house (it can cost more to cool the house back down once it overheats).
Position electric devices like lamps, TVs, or computers at least a few feet away from your AC thermostat. Reason: The AC can sense heat from these appliances, which can cause it to run longer than necessary.
Place room units on the north side of the house when possible. An AC unit operating in the shade uses up to 10% less electricity than one in the sun. Long-term fix: Plant trees to shade your windows and save as much as 25% of the energy a typical home uses.
Know when to upgrade. In terms of energy use, you may want to consider a new AC if yours is more than 10 years old (window unit) or 12 years old (central air) — and definitely if it’s not cooling as well as it used to — to shave up to 30% off your bill.
2. Manage Moisture
An estimated 50% of U.S. homes have unhealthily high levels of moisture. What to do when “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”:
Move indoor plants outside — they produce a lot of airborne moisture.
Invest in a dehumidifier. The 70-pint Frigidaire ($193; amazon.com) zapped humidity best in GHRI tests.
Run bathroom exhaust fans for a full 20 minutes after a shower or bath to “dry” the air.
The ultimate chill-out: Get wet. A cool bath or shower with water around 75°F (lukewarm) will chill you out 25 times faster than a blast of cold air
3. Remember: Heat Rises
Attics can reach temps of 150°F. Take measures to properly insulate this area from the rest of the house: Install sweeps and weather-stripping around the door (about $10 and $8 for a roll, respectively, at hardware stores). For a hatch-style entrance, invest in a stair-insulator cover like the Attic Tent ($200 to $240; attictent.com) to seal it.
4. Harness the Heat
Hot weather isn’t all bad for your electric bill
Line-dry clothes outdoors — there’s nothing like that fresh smell! — and skip the dryer (the costliest part of doing laundry).
Hang towels that are soggy from a day at the beach or pool to dry in the sun over a line, a railing, or the back of a chair. Bonus, if towels will be used again before laundering: Solar rays can kill some smell-causing bacteria.
Create a Breeze With the air circulating, you’ll feel like a room’s temp has dropped up to 8°F
Use a portable fan in conjunction with your AC to move air without greatly increasing your power use (it’ll even save money, because you can comfortably set the thermostat a few degrees higher). No AC? Fake it by putting a dish of ice water in front of the fan.
Be smart about ceiling fans Since they don’t actually cool — you need to be in their path to get the benefits — turn off all fans when you’re heading out to avoid wasting energy. If you’re buying a new ceiling fan, make sure it’s sized right for your room (the fan’s box should list its specs).
Open opposing windows on nights when the outside temp is at least 3°F cooler than inside. Window fans (one that pulls air into the room, another that blows air out) can boost airflow. Umbra’s Halo Floating Magnetic Tieback Rings ($14 for two; umbra.com) make drawing the drapes a literal cinch
Article published & written by Good Housekeeping