Plan Now to Keep Cool
When the news fills with heat advisories, there are things you can do right away to make your home more comfortable and keep your electricity bill from rising like hot air.
Although planting a shade tree is a long-term solution, it can’t help you get cooler fast. But, there are plenty of options for immediate relief. First, keep as much heat out of your home as possible. Early in the morning, close windows and blinds to block the sun as it rises. Heavier drapes with heat-blocking fabric will help guard against the warm rays.
Next, avoid creating any extra heat inside your home. Light bulbs, especially incandescent or halogen bulbs, create significant heat. Keep them off during the day. (Or, change them out for LEDs.)
Walk around your home and unplug any unused electronics. Entertainment and computer equipment can create heat — and waste energy — if left on. If possible, avoid using hot water for extended periods, running the dishwasher or doing laundry during the day. These appliances can also create heat and humidity inside the home and make it harder to keep cool.
Plan not to cook. If you do need to heat meals, use the microwave or grill outdoors. Avoid the oven or stovetop, which can quickly warm up a home in hot weather.
Make plan to keep cool
Once you’ve blocked heat from getting in, work on a plan to stay cool. Fans don’t actually cool the air inside your home, but moving air across the skin can help your body feel cooler. Many fans are also very economical to use, especially ones made to Energy Star efficiency standards. Remember whatever types of fans you use, turn them off when you’re not in the room.
For air conditioners, you’ll want to turn the thermostat up to 85 degrees when you leave home to help keep costs down. But, don’t turn the AC all the way off. Running it at a higher temperature while you’re away and then turning it down to about 78 degrees when you’re home keeps it much cooler inside than outside—and avoids spikes in your energy bill.
Before cranking the AC up, check its filter. Make sure you’ve trimmed back any plants and bushes around the outdoor unit. Also, look at your indoor vents and clear away anything blocking the flow of cool air into your home. If you have a basement that stays cool, close those vents to push more cool air upstairs. These steps will help the system to operate as efficiently as possible.
If you’re shopping for an air conditioner, consider the amount of energy used, as well as the purchase price. Look for the Energy Star label as you compare options. More efficient models cost less to run and could save you money over time.
When the sun goes down in the evening, open the windows and let cool air blow through your home. However, don’t forget safety. Window screens are not strong enough to protect against falls and it’s important to make sure there are no small children near open windows.
Most of all, stay hydrated and check on elderly, at -risk friends and neighbors to make sure they’re keeping cool and safe. If your home is just too hot, go somewhere to cool down. Community centers, public libraries, restaurants and theaters are all options to escape the heat.