12 Ways to Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning
If your summer energy bill is leaving you hot under the collar, consider these savvy alternate strategies for cooling down
I'm a freelance writer and design enthusiast who believes the best design is collected, not decorated, and that homes should always be as comfortable and functional as they are chic. In addition to writing for Houzz, I work as the Head Copywriter for Layla Grayce and Zinc Door.
I'm a freelance writer and design enthusiast who believes the best design... More »
Summer heat waves have everyone looking for ways to cool down at home. Blasting the air conditioner isn't always an option, and it certainly uses a lot of energy. Instead of shelling out the big bucks to keep cool, consider several alteratives that can make a big difference.
1. Choose light-colored blinds. Installing window shades or blinds is a no-brainer. But light-colored shades tend to be more effective, since they reflect the heat back outside. Close south- and west-facing curtains during the day to further reduce heat.
Consider applying window tint too. "You have no idea how incredible the new 3M window film products are — not only for reducing heat, but also for cutting down on the UV factor that can fade your carpet and materials," says window designer and specialist Cory Jacoby of the Jacoby Company. "This should be your first line of defense."
2. Use liners with your shades. Bamboo or tightly woven shades are another good way to cut the heat. "The trick here is to install an operational liner as well that can be pulled down for sun and heat control," says Jacoby. "This is truly the best of both worlds, because you see outside through the weave when you want, and then lower the shade behind it for sun protection when necessary."
3. Install ceiling fans. "Ceiling fans can make a room feel much cooler, since they circulate the air. And considering they can cost as low as $100, they're often an investment that is not only affordable but easy," says general contractor LuAnn Fabian.
4. Open the windows at night. Ventilate your home on cooler days or at night to reduce any hot air that has snuck indoors. Open windows in all rooms of the house and place window fans facing out on the downwind side of your home. Make sure all interior doors are open to keep the air moving.
5. Plant shade trees. Exercise your green thumb by planting shade trees around the house. Design associate Andrew Spiering of Terra Ferma Landscapes suggests casting shadows on the southwestern exposure of the home using large deciduous trees, like oaks, sycamores and elms. "Other ideas include increasing humidity around the home using layered planting or reducing hardscape," he says.
6. Allow ivy to crawl up the walls. Ivy provides a buffer between your home and the sun. "Planting a green wall or vines on the home reduces reflection and absorbs heat," says Spiering.
7. Cover the south side of your home. Install awnings on south-facing windows to make up for insufficient roof overhang and provide additional shade in the summer.
8. Turn off the TV. Keep heat-generating appliances, such as lamps and televisions, off or away from your air-conditioning unit or thermostat. The unit works harder to react to nearby heat, thinking your home is hotter than it truly is.
9. Get a hood fan. If you don’t have a range fan in the kitchen, consider the investment. Cooking can generate ample heat throughout the house, and a range fan can help significantly with venting that hot air back outdoors.
10. Replace your lightbulbs. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents — according to Fabian, CFLs can emit up to 75 percent less heat.
11. Paint your roof white. A white roof will help to reflect heat away from your home and help keep the attic — one of the hardest areas to cool — as low in temperature as possible.
12. Update your insulation. Many newer homes are required to follow certain thickness codes for insulation, but older designs may need an update. "Replacing insulation in older homes will definitely reduce the heat indoors," says Fabian.
More: Cool Architecture for Hot Summers
Ideabook published on July 31, 2012.
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