Now that summer is here, we can expect some pretty hot days. Which is great for the beach, not so much for sleeping. We all want that nice respite in the evening after a nice long, hot, sunny summer day. Problem is, not all of us have an air conditioner. AC unit(s) are not as common as you think and some nights, opening a window just isn’t enough. Fortunately, there are inexpensive options available to help beat the heat.
No AC? No Problem!
In this first (of 2) article, let’s discuss how to stay cool. I suppose a basic understanding of thermodynamics is important. That is just a fancy way of saying that heat rises, cold drops. Great, the science lesson is over! Thinking about this basic principle can help with trying to keep your living spaces cooler.
Close your blinds during the day, even if only on the sunny side of your house. The sun beating on the glass (even if they are triple pane) is going to dramatically increase the temperature inside. It is amazing what some blinds can do to block that heat. Obviously insulated blinds will do the best job, but don’t knock even an old sheet. It will help! Turning on your furnace fan to help circulate the cool air your bring in at night can help cool the entire house as well.
With pretty rare exception, opening the windows at night when it’s cool and closing them when it’s hot is going to do wonders. If you have basement windows, opening them at night can help as the cool air that enters will sink to the floor of the basement forcing the hot air up and out the open windows on the higher floors.The trick is to only open them once it’s cool and to be dedicated to closing them before it gets hot. Don’t wait until you are hot, then it’s too late. And try as best you can to not give in to the heat during the day and open the windows for that “breeze.” Windchill taking the temperature that you feel down from 33C to 28C seems like it’s the cool choice, but then the inside of your home is 28C. Unless it is drastically warmer inside than out, keep those windows closed.
Some Easy Tricks and Habits for Those Summer Months
Some more subtle, but helpful, tricks are to limit the amount the outside doors are being opened and closed. We have all heard it before, “either you are in, or you are out. Don’t care, just pick!” Try not to use the stove or the microwave for meal prep. “Cold suppers” of sandwiches and salads are a great alternative. Dishwashers and dryers also heat up the house, so try to limit their use as well. Another option is to go low. If at all practical, hangout in the basement. The ground acts as an insulator and will make the basement the coolest place, not to mention that cold air sinks and will sit in the lowest place (your basement).
Fans, Fans, Fans!!!
Without question, if you don’t have an AC unit, the single next-best alternative is a ceiling fan. These fixtures might seem like something from your grandma’s house, but they can do wonders for a home during the summer. They are cost effective to run, come in a huge variety of styles and sizes, and with options and varieties to your heart’s content. You can spend $75 (I wouldn’t) or $775 (again, not for me). It all depends on your budget and needs.
What are these great benefits to a ceiling fan then? Well, they move air. Pretty simple concept with a big impact. The biggest difference to note between ceiling fans and tabletop/box fans is the direction of air movement. Box fans move air laterally. The best use of these fans is to direct air to places in the home that do not benefit from any natural air flow. A good example of this is down a hallway or down a stairwell, maybe even a room in the house that doesn’t get any airflow from the windows.
Ceiling fans move air vertically. What this does (and why it makes a huge difference) is moves hot air that gets trapped on the ceiling and in the corners and displaces it with cool air off the floor. Not only does the fan circulate the air so that it doesn’t get trapped and hold heat, it also creates a windchill effect as the moving air passes over your skin. A good example is that ceiling fan in the bedroom. It doesn’t let the hot air hang over the bed. It circulates the cold air and displaces the warm air, all while blowing across your skin and making it feel cooler because of the windchill.
And since we’re talking about fans … I love these things. Homemade swamp coolers are not a whole house solution by any means, but they are fun to make and can really offer some cool. Like anything, these can be as simple or as expensive as you like.
Let’s Keep Cool
If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to manage the heat. There are always going to be a few nights where the humidity just won’t let it cool down outside or there just isn’t enough time with cooler temperatures to get the house cool. On those occasions you might want to eat out at a cool restaurant or maybe go hang out at the mall or in a Walmart.
If you’d like to discuss more or have a wiring situation you would like a professional electrician to look at – give me a call at 306-551-5254!