It’s getting hot in the Pacific Northwest and we all know that a hot home makes for an absolutely miserable night. Many homes in the Northwest have no or inadequate air conditioners, so mastering the art of home cooling is absolutely essential. Here are 10 no-cost or low-cost ways to keep your home cool this summer.
The most important thing to remember is that a home’s temperature is easier (and cheaper) to maintain than it is to lower. The key is to keep your house or apartment as cool as possible all the time.
1. Maximize the cooler air at night by keeping your windows and doors open. Nighttime air is basically free air conditioning in the Pacific Northwest. Obviously this doesn’t hold as true when we experience more than 3 days of above 90 degree temps in a row, but most evenings this will be the most effective way to keep your house cool.
2. Create strategic air flow throughout your house with optimal fan placement. After the sun sets, if your home is hotter than outside, place fans in the windows and doors pointing out so the hot air leaves the room. Right before you go to bed, put fans in the windows or door openings to bring the cool air in. If you have a room or side of your home with a particularly nice breeze, pull the air into those rooms, then put more fans inside the indoor doorways to push the cooler air throughout the house.
3. Keep the windows and doors open even if the house is colder than you’d like in the morning. I consider it a personal victory if my family has to put a long sleeve shirt on when they wake up. This means I have already won the afternoon/early evening heat battle.
4. Close the house up the moment the house is cooler than the outside in the morning. Shut all the windows and doors and work to train the kids to close all doors behind them as quickly as possible.
5. Close curtains, shades, and blinds to block all direct sunlight or even if the window is hot to the touch. The front of my home gets direct morning sunshine, so I pull all the curtains closed until the sun goes over the house. On really, really hot days I keep them closed until the window itself is no longer hot.
6. Consider hanging heavy blankets or towels in windows when it gets crazy hot, especially if your window coverings are lightweight or light colored. I know it looks trashy, but it’s only necessary for a handful of days in the Northwest.
7. Shove rolled up towels or blankets in door cracks if you can see sunlight at the bottom. It’s amazing how much hot air can sneak through those smaller cracks.
8. Turn off any light or lamp that uses halogen or regular incandescent lights in the evening. Those bad boys get hot and can warm up a room in no time. If you don’t have the budget to replace them, just turn them off.
9. Avoid using doors with direct sunlight during the afternoon. Just instruct people to use a different entrance. At our previous home, the afternoon sun beat down on our front door and the living room temperature increased by 5 degrees every time that thing opened. We used the garage door during the super hot times instead.
10. Turn your oven and clothes dryer off. Use your slow cooker, grill, or make cold dinners and use an outdoor drying rack or clothes line as much as possible.
If you do have window air conditioning units, use them strategically. We used our living room unit during the day and placed fans at the room’s inner doorways to push the cooler air into the kitchen and dining room. During the day, we kept all the bedroom doors closed. Once the kids were ready for bed, we turned their units on (it only takes a few minutes for a window unit to cool down a moderately-sized bedroom). Obviously, this isn’t free, but you can use your air conditioning units wisely to keep just the areas you’re actually using cool.
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