Can I Keep Cool Without A/C?
Lots of people live without air conditioning. It’s not a necessity but it sure does help on the hot dog days of summer. Especially with the humidity we experience in the Lake Erie region. So if you want to lower your cooling bill and give your HVAC system a rest or central air isn’t much of an option for your home then instead of spending all your time someplace where there is AC here are some tips that really work to help keep your home cooler so you can relax and save.
Move Some Air with Fans
The effectiveness of fans should not be underestimated. When you move air with ceiling or box fans it cools your skin even if the temperature of the air remains the same. Be sure to check the direction of ceiling fans so it’s blowing air down onto you rather than drawing air up from floor. Typically moving the air upward is used to help distribute the air in a room during the heating season. Fans with variable speed and oscillation are nice features to share the breeze at a comfortable speed with the whole room.
Chill or Grill. Don’t Cook.
Rather than add to the heat load inside plan a summer menu with cool options for salads or use your grill and keep the heat (and smoke!) outside. Try your hand at those great dishes you’ve had at restaurants or recipes you’ve pinned and get outside awhile to enjoy the warmth. It will make your cooler interior feel that much better!
A 350+ degree oven will really add to an already hot house. And really any major appliance use like dishwashers and laundry machines can add to the temperature inside. Try to limit their use until cooler times of the day like early morning or evening to minimize their effect.
Heat gain from lighting and bathing is also real so tweaks to these activities can make a noticeable difference. Be sure to ventilate the bathroom with use of the exhaust fan to get heat and humidity out (unless you take a cold shower Brrrrr!).
Shade All Day for the Windows
You’ve experienced the relief from getting to some shade when out in the blazing sun. That same effect is felt inside your home when you keep the windows covered during the heat of the day when the sun is beating down. The larger the window the more dramatic the effect. And especially windows on the south side of your house where more direct exposure to the sun’s rays comes from in our location. The urge to open up every window is strong on bright and clear days but for keeping cool you’ve got to be wise about when you do that.
Open the Windows (But Keep the Screens Shut)
Those indoor/outdoor thermometers are a great help for this but generally early morning and later evening is when it’s cooler outside than in. That’s a great time to open up doors and windows and change out the air inside to outside. Then as the heat and humidity begin to rise close things up and close the shades and blinds to keep the heat out. The next two tips go hand in hand with this.
Maybe a Whole House Fan is Appropriate
Some people say whole house fans are the best way to go. You have to know how to use them safely and correctly for maximum effectiveness but it might be the right choice for your home. Whole house fans are powerful fans usually mounted in the ceiling of your uppermost level. The idea is that they draw air up and out of your house pushing it into a vented attic while windows and doors are open to push out the heated air from your home and replace it with cooler outside air. This helps speed up the transfer of cool for warm air at the appropriate times of the day or evening.
You must be careful to use them safely so as to not cause backdrafting from devices that vent into chimney flues. This is where the opening of doors and windows allows for the exchange of air easily so air isn’t pulled back inside from a flue pipe. Consult operating instructions for these devices.
An attic fan that is mounted in the attic, typically in the roof deck, is a variation on this idea. But rather than opening windows to flush the air out of the house an attic fan is meant to only flush out the attic heat there by reducing the heat load that is affecting your home’s rooms adjacent to the attic.
Insulate to Get an ROI
To get a return on your investment of an improvement you can go with improving the insulation of your home’s walls or attic. Proper insulation will work to keep heat where you want it. This benefits you in both summer and winter. As an example a well insulated attic floor will keep heat that builds up from the beating sun from entering your home so easily. This will keep the space cooler for a longer period of time. And the reverse will be true in colder months. The heat you pay for will be kept inside longer so you can enjoy its warmth before it escapes to the the cold outdoors.
Another option with insulation for attics is to use a product like spray foam directly under the roof deck. With this technique you create what the building code refers to as a closed attic assembly. By placing your thermal boundary at this spot you essentially push back on the summer heat directly at the roof line and prevent it from entering your home in the first place. The less heat that gets in is that much less you have to remove later.
Most insulation upgrades generate a payback of five to seven years. Structures without any insulation can reduce this time frame dramatically to just a few years.
Reflect On It
Radiant barriers pop up every so many years as the solution to your heat problems. They definitely have their place but are no magic wand. The concept is that by placing a reflective material (such as foil) inside your attic you can combat the property of energy transfer called radiation. You’ve most likely experienced this when you’ve worn light colored clothing compared to dark colors. Lighter colors reflect more of the sun’s rays there by reducing the amount of heat they absorb. The most effective way to use this concept is to select lighter colored materials for the exterior finishes on your home.
Be Like a Groundhog
Combat the heat by seeking shelter in the best geothermal cooling system of all, your basement! If you have one and it’s conducive to spending time in you’ll find it’s quite comfortable during those hot days. As much as 10 degrees cooler than the main level of your home. If you can find an activity to do in your basement you’ll pass the time till things cool off.
Make Like a Tree and Leave
Take this tip literally and plant some trees to create some shade. Being strategic with your landscape can make a difference with how much sun gets to your home and in turn heats it up. Go for east, west and south exposures to block the most sun. It will take a number of years but by the time you retire you can enjoy the shade all day! On the other hand, for a quicker result take this figure of speech the other way and get out of the house and use the car’s AC to go enjoy a movie, shopping or a meal where they have air conditioning running full blast.
Cheat. But Through a Window
This isn’t really a tip because you’re not avoiding AC but from the cost savings and for those homes who aren’t setup with the necessary duct work for central air look into a window unit. Energy Star rated options can save you money with their efficiency and by cooling specific rooms where you spend the most of your time you can minimize the impact on your electric bill.
So you can beat the heat of summer without A/C if you do a little planning. If you found these helpful please share with someone who could benefit. And if you need help keeping your home cooler (or warmer) with insulation or would like to remodel that basement into an inviting space and take advantage of that ‘free’ A/C the earth provides contact us. We are here to help.