In the heart of a long and hot summer, keeping cool without benefit of an air-conditioner is no easy task, but it can be done. Here are some tips that will keep costs down, and will help you spend the warmer months in much more comfort than in previous years. The goal is to minimize the sources of heat in your home and remove built-up heat from inside. Follow these simple rules and do not pass go, collect two hundred dollars or even dare to turn on your air-conditioner.
1) Open your windows and use portable and/or ceiling fans. Make sure your ceiling fan is blowing air downward. Even the very mildest movement of air can make you feel a few degrees cooler and costs only about $10 dollars per month to maintain if kept on for 12 hours per day.
2) Use portable fans or ceiling fans and the "Fan Only" setting on your heating system's thermostat to keep the air circulating. If your home has a whole-house fan, turn it on to extract warm air.
3) Use exterior fans wherever possible. They are very effective at reducing the level of moisture in the air. Fans, generally speaking, do not use much energy.
Shades, Curtains and Blinds
5) Close the curtains, blinds, shades and drapes on those windows in your home that face the sun (east-facing windows in the morning and west-facing windows in the afternoon). Consider installing white window shades, drapes or blinds which will reflect heat way from the house, which is the most efficient way to help fans do their job cool.
6) Be aware that the most common sources of internal heat are appliances, lighting and electronic devices. Try to void those activities that you know will generate heat, such as cooking during the hottest part of the day. If you do cook, using a range fan will help to vent the hot air out of your kitchen and your house. Minimize mid-day washing and drying clothes and showering as well. This will help reduce indoor humidity and when you must do these things, turn on the ventilating fans, which will help extract the warmth and unpleasant moistness in the air.
7) When landscaping, avoid using large quantities of exposed rock, cement or asphalt on the southern and western sides of your home because it increases the temperature surrounding the house and radiates heat to it after the sun has set.
Roofs and Attics
9) You can lower the inside temperature of your attic and reduce energy use by as much as a third compared with the cost of an air-conditioner if you use a well sized and placed whole house fan in your attic. If you can install it yourself, this should run anywhere between $150-$400.
10) If your roof is flat, paint it either with a specially formulated reflective paint or with white, especially in the areas facing south and west. The reflective effect will help to keep the rooms in your house much cooler. Use lighter shingles as that will help to cut down on the amount of heat the house absorbs.