Want to stay cool this summer? Think HEAT
The summer heat can make you feel like you’re cooking in your own juices. If you don’t have the budget to plant mature shade trees around your house, stay cool this summer by remembering these HEAT strategies:
H — HOUSE — optimize your home to keep the heat out
E — ENERGY — save energy and cooling costs by minimizing heat-producing items
A — AIR — use airflow effectively to vent heat and bring in cool air
T — TLC — take care of yourself to stay cooler
Tune up the AC
Whether you’ve got central air or a room unit, have your AC unit checked yearly (about $70-100) and put in a new filter monthly. Opt for the inexpensive fiberglass filters that allow for better air flow than expensive pleated ones; changing them monthly cleans air just as effectively as a longer-use expensive filter, says Nortek Environmental. Seal cracks between a window unit and the frame with sealant strip or removable caulk.
Closed vs open windows?
When it’s hotter outside than in, an open door or window will only let heat in. Throw the windows open first thing in the morning, then close them when the temp starts to rise. Keep the windows shut until the temp drops. About 30 percent of unwanted heat comes through your windows, says Family Handyman. Use low-E tinted window film and sun-blocking curtains. Close the blinds tilted up so rays don’t come through the slits.
Make a DIY air conditioner
If you don’t have AC or just want to save some money, try making your own mini air conditioner. Basic, inexpensive materials go into this cooler fan version. For about $30 you can cool down a room in moments, thanks an ingenious design by a college student.
Make a trellis
Shading your windows that see the most sunshine can reduce the heat that comes in through the panes. Make your own decorative window trellis to hang above windows (we’ve pinned some ideas for you).
Don’t generate heat
Appliances generate heat. So be strategic about using them, or just do something different:
- Grill instead of using the oven; use a crock pot instead of the stovetop.
- Run the dishwasher overnight (if it’s still hot at night, skip the drying cycle) or hand wash.
- Run the washer/dryer at night; if the weather’s nice, take advantage of the clothes line for that summer fresh smell.
- Unplug unused appliances/electronics (some still have operating functions even when turned off) and shut down computers.
Replace light bulbs
Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs give off about 70 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs, says the US Dept. of Energy. The new LED bulbs also run cooler.
Use vents to your advantage
Turn the vent fan on when you’re taking a shower (bye-bye hot, sticky air!). If you don’t have AC, you can also use the bathroom fan to pull hot air out of a house, especially from an upper floor.
Close the fireplace damper to avoid bringing in heat while you’re running any air conditioner, room or central.
Make the most of air flow
When your windows are open, you can hang a damp towel in front of it to cool the air coming in.
If you have a single level house with no basement, open doors/windows on opposite sides of the house to create a cross breeze. Consider installing a whole house fan (see the second illustration below).
Open a south-facing upstairs window and north-facing downstairs/basement windows (keep interior doors open) to create a chimney effect for heat to escape (convection). Use a fan to help draw that cool basement air up.
Reverse your ceiling fan
Ceiling fans have two modes depending on the season. Most are set to a clockwise motion to push air down (winter). In the summer, ceiling fans should be reversed to run counter-clock wise (the switch should be on the motor housing). This lifts away the heat and draws in cooler air from below.
Fan vs. AC
Run a fan and an air conditioner at the same time. You can turn down the AC and still feel cool if the fan is blowing over you. Why? The AC dries the air and the fan helps evaporate sweat while it moves heat away from your body. The main difference between an AC and a fan is that the AC cools the overall temperature and the fan moves air to make you feel cooler. So don’t leave a fan running when you leave the room.
TLC – Take care of yourself to stay cooler
Stay cooler while you exercise by working out early in the morning or in the evening. If you can, switch to water sports. Wear workout fabrics that wick sweat away from you. Try some precooling techniques like pouring water on your head, drinking a frozen slush, or putting a chilled collar around your neck to improve endurance.
If you work in an office/home office setting that’s a bit too warm for comfort, try using a fan that plugs into your computer’s USB port. Choose one with a flexible neck to direct the breeze more efficiently. A moisture-wicking undershirt can help prevent unsightly shirt stains. Loose-fitting dress or casual shirts in natural fibers breathe better than synthetics. When you’re in the restroom, run your wrists under cool water. Kick off your shoes when you can.
The most miserable kind of heat is at night when you’re trying to get some sleep, especially in climates where it just doesn’t cool off when the sun goes down. Try these 5 cool tricks:
- Use the “Egyptian method” – sleep on top of a damp sheet.
- Make sure you’re done exercising a few hours before you go to bed and only take a tepid Or soak your feet in tepid water.
- If you can, sleep on a lower floor of the house. Use lighter bedding (cotton preferably); pre-cool your bed by putting your fitted sheet in the freezer before bed.
- If you’re a “hothead,” try using a bamboo, phase-change material (PCM) bead or gel-infused cooling pillow. You can also throw a cooling pad over an existing pillow.
- Don’t be tempted to sleep au naturale – wearing cotton or performance sleepwear actually makes you feel cooler.
Performance moisture-wicking fabrics are available in dress slacks, polos and more. If you don’t like synthetics, choose lightweight, natural fabrics such as cotton and bamboo. Loose-fitting clothing allows for air movement. Wear sandals or go barefoot.
Ice cream? No. Eat foods with chemicals that send cooling messages to your brain. The capsaicin in chili peppers triggers TRPV1 receptor proteins that tells the brain “I’m hot, let’s cool off” and you sweat to get cooler. Likewise, hot drinks trigger the same receptors (why hot tea/coffee is popular in hot climates). Mint triggers TRPM8, a receptor that senses change in temperature — your brain responds with a cold sensation. Eating lighter foods such as salads vs. hamburgers will also help you stay cool.
Stay hydrated. Water is your best option. Beverages containing sugar, caffeine or alcohol are dehydrating. If you’re a dedicated athlete or exerciser, consider one percent chocolate milk – research show it’s more effective than fluid/electrolyte-replacement and carb-replacement drinks (if you can tolerate milk).
Take your mind off the heat. Use the placebo effect by escaping to a cooler place. Watch a show set in a snowy climate, look at pics of the arctic, or read a wintry tale – you’ll “feel” cooler faster than you think.
Looking for a cooler place to call home? Let Redefy Real Estate find your chill retreat. We’re a full-service brokerage for buyers and sellers. Plus, we save you thousands when you sell with #flatfeefullservice.
By Susha Roberts, Redefy Real Estate