The recent heatwave in Charlotte has us thinking of ways to keep our homes cool without the sticker shock of a high electricity bill. Luckily for us, there are a variety of solutions from quick and easy to long-term investments that lead to long-term savings. Here are some ideas for your list as temps continue to rise:
Quick and Easy
Talk about simple: make sure you have curtains and keep them closed, particularly on south and west facing windows. Heavier fabrics are better at shielding your interior from the sun than sheer panels, and there are even curtains made specifically to keep the heat out. If curtains aren’t your thing, you can look for interior shutters and blinds.
If you have them, use them. But more importantly, make sure the blades are spinning the right direction. Your fan should spin counterclockwise, making sure cool air is lifted up, and blows back down on you. Other fans to use are the exhaust fans in bathrooms. This is a great way to pull out hot air, particularly after showers.
This may seem counterintuitive on warm days, but open your windows. Make sure to open windows on opposite ends of your home so a breeze flows freely, and you can make it even cooler by adding a damp sheet in front of the windows. To push hot air outside, put a box fan in your windows.
Doors & Lights
If a room is cool, shut the door. This way, your air conditioner doesn’t have to do extra work. Another simple way to ease the heat is to turn off lights when they aren’t necessary. Incandescent bulbs put out heat in addition to light, so turning them off can make a difference.
Your first line of defense against heat is insulation in your walls and attic. It’s not a fun thing to spend money on, but it will save on your energy costs in the future. Without insulation, your air conditioner has to work harder.
Patch Cracks & Holes
Heat can seep into your house in a variety of ways, from tiny cracks and holes around windows and doors, to crawl spaces and recessed lights. The easiest way to fix these problems is to call your utility company. Most will offer a home energy audit, complete with a list of what to fix.
If you feel like there are certain rooms where the heat beats down during the day, consider planting trees outside those windows to create long-term natural shade.