When temperatures rise outside, they’ll also rise inside your home, making you uncomfortable, especially late in the afternoon as heat builds up outside – and in areas of your home facing south and west. Below you’ll find some ways to cool down your room or home quickly, how to make yourself more comfortable, and some ideas for preventing heat from getting into your house in the first place.
Fans are an affordable way to move air around – and push hot air out of your home and pull in cool air.
Create A Cross Breeze
Open the windows and position a box fan to blow outward in one window. Then position a second box fan in a window across the room or in another room blowing to the inside. This will exhaust the hot air out of the room and bring the cooler outside air into the room. Position the fans so that they create a breeze across the area you want to cool the fastest. Of course, this is only effective once the air outside is cooler than the air in your home.
Placing a small, personal fan right in front of you can keep you cool by moving air over you and evaporating perspiration. We’ve put together a list of the top personal fans – not quite a personal air conditioner, but something you can easily move from place to place.
Strategically placed ceiling fans can make you feel cooler in a hot room by moving stagnant air, evaporating perspiration, and creating a wind chill effect. Place ceiling fans over areas where you spend the most time like the kitchen, living room, or over your bed.
During the hot weather you want your ceiling fan set so the blades will spin in a counter-clockwise direction. This creates a downdraft bringing a cooling breeze. Your fan should have a switch or button to change the direction. Make sure the fan blades are completely stopped before you flip the switch or you risk damaging the motor or blades.
An attic fan is usually installed in a main hallway ceiling near the bedrooms and is a quick way to cool your home when the temperature outside is lower than inside. An attic fan actually pulls hot air out of your home and exhausts it through the vents in your attic.
Open at least 3 windows all the way before you turn on the attic fan as the strong draft can create negative pressure and cause dangerous back drafting with gas appliances. Open windows where you need the most breeze.
It’s recommended that you leave the fan running until early in the morning because you want to cool the whole house, not just the air. It takes time for sheetrock, structures, and contents of a house to cool. By ventilating through the night, the house will start out cool the next day. Later we list some things you can do to keep it that way.
Create Cooled Air
Here are a couple ways people have been cooling themselves for more than 100 years. In fact, the earliest forms of air conditioning used huge amounts of ice with air blowing over it to chill the air. You can read more about the history of AC in this interesting post.
Ice and Water
An easy and quick way to create cooled air is by placing ice or ice packs in a shallow bowl behind your fan. The fan will soon spread the cooled air throughout your room.
A Misting Fan / Evaporative Cooler
A misting fan is a regular fan that has a water reservoir and a misting ring. As the fan runs, water is pumped into the air as a mist. The air current evaporates the water and cools the air. A good misting fan will evaporate all of the water and will not allow anything in your home to become damp. Evaporative coolers are quite effective and can be used outside as well. Here are some of the top models currently available.
Excess humidity in the air adds discomfort to a hot room. One of the biggest benefits of air conditioning units, besides cooling, is that they will dehumidify your space. Dry air feels more comfortable. For example, you’ll likely feel as comfortable in 78-degree air if the humidity is below 40% than you would in 72-degree air with humidity above 60%.
These units are installed into a window with the front of the unit inside the room and the back of the unit outside. Many window air conditioners have a quick cooling setting to cool down the room in a very short time.
Window units can block your view or the light and not all windows can accommodate a window unit. They work best in single-hung and double-hung sash windows, but there are a few models made for casement and sliding/vertical windows. Smallest window ac units are very popular for small windows.
A portable air conditioning unit sits on the floor, has wheels so it can be moved, and includes an exhaust hose and a device to attach the hose to the window. The hose must be vented out the window when the unit is in use. Portable units can be moved from room to room, as needed, as long as there is a window for venting.
A mini split is a ductless air conditioning system and, if you get one with a heat pump, they also provide heat. A mini split consists of 2 components – an outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler. You can find mini splits with multiple air handlers so you can enjoy temperature control throughout your home.
Tip: When purchasing an air conditioning unit look for a Quick or Turbo Cool feature that allows you to cool the room very fast. Some of these units also come with Smart technology so you control them with your phone when you are away from home. The advantage of that is turning up the thermostat while you’re away from home – no need to cool an empty house – and turn down the thermostat setting (crank up the AC!) about an hour before you arrive home.
Keep the Heat Out
Another option is for keeping heat out – or not creating it in the space to begin with. Here are common, easy ways to do this.
Block the Sun
Sun shining in your windows will quickly heat the inside air. Blocking the sunshine by closing your shades or curtains will help cool down a room. In hot weather, close your windows and curtains in the early morning. By keeping the sunlight out, you’ll keep your home cooler throughout the day.
Turn Off the Lights
Incandescent and halogen bulbs generate more heat than light. The filament inside an incandescent bulb can actually reach 4000 F and the outside can reach 500 F, so turn them off or replace them with CFL or LED bulbs, which generate much less heat.
Turn Off Appliances and Electronics
Many of your appliances generate heat and add to the overall temperature inside your home. Turning them off, or just not using them on a hot day, can help cool down your home.
The stove and oven are the biggest heat producers so use the microwave or take your cooking outside by using a barbeque grill.
Hand wash and air dry your dishes rather than running the dishwasher.
Don’t use the clothes dryer. Air dry your clothes on a drying rack and, when dry, fluff them in the dryer with the temperature set on cool.
Other appliances that generate heat and warm up a room include hair dryers, desktop computers, and television sets. Keeping appliance use to a minimum on a hot day will help keep your home cooler.
Keeping Cool While You Sleep
Below are a few things you can try to help keep you cool at night.
Change Your Bedding
Use 100% cotton sheets. Cotton is a breathable fabric and wicks away perspiration to keep you cooler.
You can also find bed linens specifically made to keep you cool at night. There are cooling sheets, pillows, and blankets made from various fabrics including cotton, linen, and synthetics that are designed to shed or dissipate heat while you sleep.
Take an Ice Pack to Bed
Keep a frozen gel pack near your feet. Since your feet help to control your body’s temperature, keeping them cool will help keep you from overheating during the night.
Heat rises so an upstairs bedroom can be the hottest area of a home. If you can, move your mattress to a lower level of the house.
Even if you have air conditioning, the following measures can reduce heat in your home and reduce your energy costs. And if you don’t have air conditioning, they can go a long way in keeping you comfortable during the summer.
Upgrade the insulation in your attic and walls. Insulation acts as a thermal barrier and blocks the heat from getting inside your home. Also make sure that your attic is well vented at the ridge, gables and soffits. If you DIY attic insulation, make sure not to cover the soffit vents with insulation. Covering them would prevent air from circulating into and through your attic and lead to moisture and mold issues. Covering soffit vents is the most common mistake when adding attic insulation.
Add sun blocking awnings over the windows on the sides of your house that get the most direct sunlight during the day. Awnings will not only prevent sunlight from pouring in your windows, they will also prevent it from heating the structure of your home.
Plant a Tree
Plant shade trees on the side of your home that receive the most direct sunlight during the day. Shaded walls are between 9 and 36 degrees cooler than unshaded walls. Air conditioning units need to work twice as hard if they are exposed to direct sunlight. Shading your A/C unit can save you up to 35% on energy costs.
Install a Range Hood
A range hood with an exhaust fan that’s properly vented to the outside will remove some of the excess heat that is generated from cooking and help keep your kitchen cooler.
Black Out Curtains
Black out curtains are made of tightly woven or layered dense fabric and are meant to block sunlight and heat penetration. They are available in many colors. If your home receives a substantial amount of direct sunlight they can significantly reduce the indoor temperature. If you have air conditioning, these curtains will quickly pay for themselves in reduced energy costs.