Beat the Heat: 15 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Cool Your Home

15 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Cool Your Home

When the hot sun’s beating down on you and the air’s humid and sticky, there’s nothing that appeals more than a long dip in the pool or staying indoors with your air conditioner set at the coolest possible temperature.

However, unless you’re prepared to let your energy bills blow right through the roof, you need to be clever and creative about keeping your home comfortable in the heat. There are a number of cooling solutions you can adapt both indoors and outdoors. Some may involve much-needed home improvements for which you’ll need to shell out some serious cash, while some may be simple solutions that’ll cost you nothing at all.

Here’s a rundown of what you can do to keep cool. Which of the options you choose is all up to you:

Home Improvement Solutions:

1. Repaint exterior walls. If your home is painted with dark colors, then it’s likely to absorb 70 to 90 percent of radiant heat from the sun. Reflect heat away from your home by getting your home exteriors repainted a light color. Light-colored paint also increases the longevity of your sidings.

Use white paint to cool your house

2. Apply a reflective coating or radiant barrier to your roof. At least 30 percent of the heat build-up in your home comes in through the roof. Even light-colored traditional roofing materials can absorb 70 percent of solar radiation. Local hardware stores carry roofing coatings with waterproof and reflective properties that you can use. Alternatively, you can install a radiant barrier made from aluminum foil with paper backing on your roof’s underside. This can reduce heat absorption through the ceiling by around 25 percent.
3. Coat your windows with film. Coating your windows can reduce unwanted heat buildup inside the home by around 40 percent. Whether you go with a sun-control film or a combination film, you will find that protective films won’t just help you keep your house cooler, they’ll also help reduce glare and prevent the fading of drapes, carpets, and furniture in your home. Coatings are best installed by a professional, especially if your home has large windows.

window film

4. Insulate your attic. Block heat through insulation and save on the money you’d normally spend on running electrical cooling systems like fans and air conditioners. The attic is the ideal place to start insulating because most of your home’s heat gain starts there. A properly insulated attic ensures that your home’s upper floors are also adequately protected.
5. Caulking and weather stripping effectively keep your home cooler by sealing your home and preventing air leaks. Poorly sealed windows, doors, and openings in foundations and exterior walls can allow heat in.
6. Seal off unused areas. Storage and other unused areas can be sealed off to help reduce your cooling bills.
7. Shade your home. Reduce indoor temperatures by as much as 20°F (11° C) by using trees, plants, vegetation or shading devices to block out the sun or reflect back its heat.
8. Use shading devices to control heat gain. Use exterior shades to block sunlight before it enters the home. Make sure to determine how the shades may affect ventilation, and determine whether you’re okay to open and close them daily or if you’d prefer to just put them up for entire season.
9. Use landscaping. A well-placed vine, bush, or tree will not only make your home much more aesthetically appealing, it’ll also help you cut energy costs and cool your home. Besides producing shade, plants create an ideal microclimate that can reduce temperatures in the vicinity by as much as 9° F (5° C). Water vapor that escapes from the plants can cool the air, and greens can likewise help absorb solar radiation. Low ground cover that requires little water can make a huge difference in cooling the surroundings, especially in arid and semiarid climates such as Arizona’s.

Inside the home, you can also stave off the heat without breaking the bank by:

10. Setting the air conditioner thermostat to 78°F - or higher. Sure, this sounds counter-intuitive, but every degree lower than 78° F boosts your energy consumption by around 8%. The closer indoor temperatures are to outdoor temperatures, the less you’ll spend on overall cooling costs.

set your thermostat to 78

11. Get programmable thermostats. Pre-programming your Energy Star thermostat to regulate temperatures in your home can help your save about $100 every year in energy costs.
12. Use a ceiling fan, preferably in conjunction with air conditioning, to make it feel around four degrees cooler indoors. An average ceiling fan uses as much electricity as a 100-watt light bulb, and one with an Energy Star label requires even less. Using an interior fan together with your air conditioner can spread cooled air more effectively throughout the home without greatly increasing power usage.

adjust ceiling fan blades

13. Set your ceiling fan to ensure the blades are turning the right way—with the high edge of the tilted blade going forward first, which will force the air downward.
14. Avoid using bath and kitchen fans, to prevent warm, moist air from being pushed throughout the rest of your home.
15. Delay activities that produce heat during the day. Kitchen chores like cooking or baking can boost the level of heat in the home and should be saved until later in the day when things are cooler.

There are many more ways to cool your home, including switching to energy-saving devices. A little research can go a long way towards helping you discover many more opportunities for savings and making socially responsible choices while beating the heat during summer.