This is a guest post by Amber Bradshaw of The Coastal Homestead.
Remember way back when last winter you were praying for warm weather and promised you would never complain about the heat again? Yeah, me neither.
Are you considering taking out a second mortgage just to pay your electric bill? Ditto.
Are you staying inside because it's too hot to go out? Right there with ya.
Summertime may bring many wonderful things but the extreme heat is not one of them. For many using air conditioning is not affordable nor available. Here are some tips for keeping your house cool in the summer heat that we have used to combat our ever increasing electric bill.
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #1 – Dehumidify
Not all 100 degree weather is created equal. I'm from Southern California where the blistering heat can be relentless, not to mention the drought, although it was a dry heat. I now reside on the coast of South Carolina where you can never get dry after taking a shower (literally), and I find myself missing those 105 degree temperatures compared to the 95 here. Call me crazy but it's hotter here. If you live in an area with dry heat your body perspires, your sweat evaporates, and you cool off, just the way nature intended. If you live in an area with lots of humidity (which I do) you sweat and it doesn't evaporate. Instead it soaks your clothes leaving you feeling hot, wet, sticky, and miserable.
For personal comfort in high humidity:
- wear loose cotton or other natural fabric that breathes
- purchase a dehumidifier
A dehumidifier helps remove excess moisture from the air which leaves you feeling cooler even in hot temperatures. You can find a dehumidifier at most big box stores; Craigslist, classifieds, and online. Here is a link for a small one on Amazon.
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #2 – Unplug
Everything you plug into a socket produces heat. Unplug all unnecessary appliances or electronics when not in use. Even those little red glowing lights that stare at you in the middle of the night indicating the item is turned off drain energy and produce heat. Turning something off is not enough – unplug.
House Cooling Tip #3 – Use Natural Light and High Efficiency Lighting
Take advantage of daylighting or use energy efficient light bulbs, such as LEDs, in your high use areas. A traditional 1oo watt light bulb can increase the heat by 11 degrees per hour in a small room.
Some utilities offer rebates on LED lightbulbs, making them more affordable. You can view a list of LED rebates by region and bulbs that qualify for rebates at LED Light Bulb Rebates | ENERGY STAR LED Rebates.
House Cooling Tip #4 – Don't Cook
Try not to cook (inside). During the summer months, try to pre-plan meals so that you don't need to use the oven during the day. Either cook on the grill, in a microwave, or in a crock pot. If you have to use the oven, try to cook your meal before noon or after the heat of the day. I would suggest around 4 pm.
Editor's note: GNOWFGLINS has an e-course on outdoor cooking options include using portable appliances outdoors, propane camp stove cooking/canning, charcoal grill, solar oven, open fire cooking, smoking, and more. If you sign up through links on my site, I receive an affiliate payment at no extra cost to you. You'll love Wardeh's easy to follow instructions.
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #5 – Don't Let the Sun Shine In
“Let the Sun Shine In” is a cute song for children, but not helpful for keeping your home cool. Close your blinds from late morning until early evening. This simple act can save you 10-15 degrees.
You can purchase blackout shades, use window tint film on your windows (easy to install), or good blinds. If covering your windows during the day makes it too dark, you can lower the top of your shades 6″ from the top of the window to let light in but not the heat.
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #6 – Use Ceiling Fans – The Right Way
Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to use your ceiling fan?
The base of your ceiling has a small switch that changes the direction of the air flow. During the summer months your ceiling fan should blow forward in a counter-clockwise direction, forcing air down and making you feel cooler. During the winter months your ceiling fan should blow in a clockwise direction circulating the air through the room without blowing directly on you.
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #7 – Shade the outside of your windows
A completely dark house during the summer with all of the shades closed makes me depressed and drives me crazy. My husband, (aka energy police who I swear has some vampire blood running through him) would paint our windows green polka-dots if it saved on our electricity, so we made a compromise. I found this very affordable and stylish shade that we installed on the outside of our house over our windows that still lets the light through, but blocks the heat. You can click on this link to see the one we bought. You can also put up an umbrella outside your window to block the afternoon sun and pretend you're at the beach!
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #8 – Plant Shade
This takes some time to establish and a little bit of planning but will provide you win-win results. A tree in full bloom can block over 70% of solar radiation from entering your home. Sun-loving, shade providing plants, trees and shrubs in front of windows that receive the afternoon sun to cool down your house and add beautiful landscaping to your yard.
Keep any trees/plants in pots that need to be brought in during winter months or that have an aggressive root system.
Heat Tolerant Plants that Help Provide Shade:
- Banana Plants
- Dwarf Fig tree
- Lemon Grass
- Crape Myrtle Tree
- Mimosa tree
Editor's note: In cooler areas of the country, just about any deciduous plant will do.
Keeping Your House Cool Tip #9 – Cool Your Top
Cool the top of your house, that is. Have you ever gone out in the sun in a black t-shirt? Or thought about why DIY solar heaters are painted black? Because they absorb heat. So why are all shingles black?
Most shingles are black because they are made out of tar. Cool Roofs are ones that reflect sunlight. They stay cool and reduce the amount of heat transferred to the home. According to the CRRC (Cool Roof Rating Council) if you do not have air conditioning, Cool Roofs can drastically reduce a home's internal temperature. If you do have air conditioning, adding a cool roof can save the you up to 15% off your cooling bill.
So how do you get a cool roof? One of the most affordable ways is to paint your roof with a light colored paint specifically for roofs. Almost every type of roofing can be painted, even shingles, but before you start slinging a paint brush make sure you check with your roofing manufacture to see if painting it voids your warranty.
Being frugal and trying to save on your electric bill isn't just about your wallet. With every watt you save you are reducing your environmental impact.
You may also enjoy:
- Solar Electric Basics
- Air Conditioner Tips and Maintenance Anyone Can Do to Save Money
- Building and Eco-Home Part 7 – Masonry Stove and Passive Solar
This is a guest post by Amber Bradshaw of The Coastal Homestead. Amber is a environmentalist, garden and outdoor enthusiast. She is a wife, mother of three (20 yr old son, 13 yr old daughter and 2 yr old daughter), Owns a contracting business with her husband, is President of the local Herb Society, and a 4-H Leader. Amber strives to get back into nature with a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle that fits a busy schedule and a tight budget.
She lives on the east coast with her family on a little over 1/4 acre and encourages others to do big things with small spaces.