Keeping Your Home Cool
This time of year, many of us start thinking about ways to stay cool in the hot summer months. But escaping the searing comes at a cost. But where does a person turn for help making decisions about cooling off when it seems like everyone has something to sell? Roofs, windows, air conditioning systems, insulation — companies making and selling these products all have their claims about cooling and energy savings. And how do you separate fact from myth when it comes to adages about keeping a home cool and keeping a lid on the utility bill?
Read on for some tips from the experts and learn how you can keep cool and carry on this summer.
Start With Your Windows
It sounds basic, but if the hot sun comes in through your windows it’s going to make your home warm. Using things like window coverings to their full advantage in the middle of the day help keep your home cooler by keeping that sunlight from coming in.
So, what’s best for a window covering? Looking for a product like a thermal curtain that’s designed for that purpose is generally a good idea. The purpose is to keep the light and heat from coming through. That could even mean having a thicker curtain vs. something sheer. Of course, there are also thermal shades, blackout curtains and even interior shutters.
Yeah, you might be giving up light and a view, but isn’t it nice to be cool?
Hot Air Is Likely Coming In From Everywhere
If you were to add up all the little cracks and places in your home where warm air gets in, the average home would have a hole the size of a basketball. If you had a basketball sized hole in your wall you’d take care of it right away, right? What many people may not realize is how many places in a home have hot air coming in. For example, think around windows, door frames, crawl spaces and even around recessed lights.
A great resource for finding all those little culprits is your local utility company. Many can provide a home energy audit and some even offer rebates if you take their advice.
Insulation Is Key
All those beautiful photos you can find on Pinterest of glorious, exposed rafters notwithstanding, insulation is a must. It may not be something fun to spend your hard-earned dollars on yet adding insulation to the walls and attic will save you money and make you more comfortable in your home.
How exactly does insulation work you ask? Thermodynamics work is heat flowing from a hotter place to a cooler place. If you don’t have insulation, then heat is seeping into your home and your air conditioner is having to work a lot harder to keep up.
Should I Run My Air Conditioner?
Question: Is it better to leave your air running all day so the home stays cool, and it doesn’t have to work so hard to get back down to a comfy temperature? Or should you set your thermostat a few degrees higher when you’re not home?
It’s all about equilibrium. Heat is going to flow from a hotter environment to a cooler one. So, in this case the heat will want to come from outside into your nice cool home. If it’s 85 out and you set it to 65, the air conditioner has to work extremely hard. But, if you set it to 78 during the day and set it back when you get home, it may have to work a little harder and run longer … but at the same time it’s not going to be running all day.
This also speaks to importance of a programmable thermostat. This allows you to set your temperatures and forget about it. This is another area to check with your utility company to see if they have thermostat rebates. With today’s modern technology, install a Wi-Fi thermostat you can control with your phone. You can cool your home before you get back home!
The same rule of thumb applies with window unit air conditioners. Turn them off or to a higher temperature while you’re gone.
Shopping For The Right A/C Unit
What if you have a window unit that can’t keep up? It’s possible you may not have a correctly sized unit for your room. Tempted to go big? An oversized air conditioner is actually less effective and wastes energy at the same time. Air conditioners remove both heat and humidity from the air. If the unit is too large, it will cool the room quickly, but will only remove some of the humidity. This leaves the room with a damp, clammy feeling.
And of course, look for an ENERGY STAR certified air conditioner. They use 10% less energy, and on average, cost $70 per year to run. Then be sure the unit is installed correctly. An improperly installed room air conditioner leaks as much air as a 6 square inch hole, increasing energy costs and making your home less comfortable.
One of the simplest & economical solution is to focus more on what the air feels like than the actual temperature. Ceiling fans really help keep a hot room cool. Make sure you’re using them the right way, making sure the direction is set correctly. As you’re standing under it looking up, it should be running counterclockwise. It pulls cooler air from ground and blows it back on you. Just the air from the fan can make a room feel much cooler.
With our team at A Better Home Inspection, we’ve been your neighborhood home inspection company since 1988. Our staff have helped many California homeowners maintain their houses – Please call us at 619-514-4699 and schedule today!