You don’t have to suffer the hot weather or spend too much on your electric bill to keep your house comfortably cool, especially during the summer. A few investments are needed to make your home summer-ready. We spoke with the experts who shared different ideas on how to keep your house cool during the hot season.
Here are the top 26 ways to keep your house cool during summer, according to the pros:
1. Insulate Your Attic
April Palomino, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
One thing homeowners can do to make their house more energy efficient is putting in good attic insulation. Investing in having good insulation installed will help prevent the transfer of heat between the attic and your living space in the summer and prevent your warm air from rising into the attic during the winter. A well-insulated attic can reduce heating and cooling costs up to 50 percent because you will not have the extended “on” cycles by your AC or furnace systems trying to maintain temperature. If the homeowner ever does decide to sell their home, they can see between 102 percent and 116.5 percent return on investment by having an insulated attic space, so this is a win-win in the long run. On average, the cost of adding good insulation to your attic space is around $1,300, or the average of around $1 per square foot.
2. Keep All Windows & Doors Properly Sealed
Henry Angeli III, Real Estate Investor & Owner, Henry Buys Homes LLC
You can keep your house cooler (or warmer in the winter) if all windows and doors are properly sealed. An energy audit can be done (sometimes for free) by local utility companies by using thermal imaging equipment to detect where heating/cooling losses are occurring—whether it is at doors, windows, or even walls where insulation may be missing.
3. Invest in an Evaporative Cooler
Andrew Stephenson, Director of Product Marketing, NewAir
A great air conditioner alternative, and effective for cooling a room or area in your home, is an evaporative cooler. This product uses water and a fan that blows over a cooling pad to cool the air, providing a similar experience to how you feel cold when you get out of a pool on a hot summer day as the water on your body is evaporating. An evaporative cooler uses less energy compared to an air conditioner (some even as low as a lightbulb). Also, it is portable to move around the house for spot cooling and costs only $150 to $300.
4. Invest in Metal Roofs & Walls
Jennifer J. Johnson, Director of Marketing & Strategic Relationships, Fine Metal Roof Tech
Buildings are best kept cool by managing their exterior envelope (namely the roof, the walls, and the insulation that cushions the interior from the exterior elements—be they heat or cold). Metal roofs and walls are not only beautiful and sustainable, they are also cool. Metal can be coated or “clad” in various colors of white or other shades that are also cool or heat-reflective. It can adorn rooftops and exterior walls—or at least, those getting the most sunlight.
5. Replace Your Door Weather Guards
Tyler Weinrich, CEO & Owner, W Properties
One cheap investment to keep your house cooler is replacing your door weather guards. These help keep air and water from passing through the cracks around your exterior doors. A lot of cool air can be lost through a small opening. It might cost you $40 to $80 to do a whole house.
6. Switch Your Ceiling Fan to Counterclockwise Rotation
J.B. Sassano, President, Mr. Handyman
Installing ceiling fans could cut costs by as much as 40 percent in the summer. Make sure your ceiling fan is switched to “counterclockwise” rotation in the summer months so that air is forced down instead of up towards the ceiling. This provides cooler air, making your house’s temperature feel more comfortable.
7. Reduce Heat Coming in from Outside
Richard Ciresi, Franchise Owner, Aire Serv
South- and west-facing rooms are the trickiest to keep cool. Draw the shades over the windows to reduce heat and sunlight coming in from outside. Thick, dark curtains with a white reflective backing are the most effective for keeping a room that faces the sun cool. If you have a natural cooling home design, there may be trees on the south and west sides to help shade your home in the afternoon.
8. Replace Your Windows with EnergyStar-Qualified Replacements
Jill Caponera, Consumer Savings Expert, Promocodes.com
Older, single-pane windows can often be drafty, which lets heat out during the fall and winter, and lets your air conditioning leak out during the summer months. Couple the older windows with poor or no insulation around the window frame and you not only will feel constant drafts, but you’ll also be throwing away a significant amount of money each month on your energy bill. By replacing your home’s windows with EnergyStar-qualified replacements, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average U.S. home could save between $126 and $465 a year when replacing single-pane windows, and $27 to $111 a year on double-pane windows, on top of keeping your house cooler by keeping the AC inside.
9. Use Floor Standing Fans
Rama Kusnadi, Broker, Ansons Realty
Using floor standing fans will help circulate cold air from the AC vents and keep the house cooler. Position the fan in the room at the level where the cold air is coming out of the AC vent. It’s also best to angle the fan in an upward direction to blow the cold air up. The cold air will fall and circulate on its own.
10. Use Blackout Curtains
Shawn Breyer, Owner, Breyer Home Buyers
Use blackout curtains to keep your house cool. Also, during the day, close your blinds and curtains to keep the sun out of the house. Think of your house as a greenhouse, where the sun’s heat gets trapped inside. Your air conditioning will run full blast all day to maintain temperature if it has to combat with the sun. Blackout curtains will help block the sun’s heat even more effectively.
11. Install an Attic Ventilator
John Hale, Owner, Mr. Electric of Augusta
Attics can reach more than 150 degrees in the summer. Installing an attic ventilator fan is recommended because it evacuates the hot air that accumulates and draws air in from the outside. It ensures that the temperature of the air in the attic is closer to the air temperature outside, and it helps take the strain off of your home’s AC system.
12. Inspect Your AC Unit & Schedule Regular Maintenance
Audrey Monell, President, Forrest Anderson
It’s not too late to set up your maintenance and get someone to inspect your air conditioning unit. An experienced technician can inspect and review your complete system, outside and inside your home, to ensure that your air is blowing cold and your unit is working efficiently. If there is a problem, it’s better to find out at the end of our inspection than in the middle of the night.
13. Invest in Solar Panels
Thomas Enzendorfer, CEO, American Home Energy
Having solar panels installed in your home actually has many benefits in keeping your house cool. According to a 2011 study, they found that solar panels reduce the heat hitting the roof of a home by about 38 percent versus a house with no solar panels. Not only does this reduce heat, but it also reduces costs. Another key advantage of solar is that usually during the hottest part of the day, you also need the most air conditioning—which is when the sun pays and provides your air conditioning.
14. Use a Portable Air Conditioner
Patrick Holmes, Indoor Air Quality Specialist, Home Air Quality Guides
One of the most affordable ways to keep your home cool is by using a portable air conditioner. Instead of wasting energy and money trying to cool your entire house, a portable AC unit will chill only the room you need it to. Plus, most of these units come with wheels that allow you to easily transport it from room to room with you. The cost to purchase a portable air conditioner will vary depending on how powerful it is, but you can expect to pay around $6 to $15 per month to run it. For a small unit that covers 100 to 200 square feet, the upfront cost is around $175 to $200. For a larger unit that covers 500 square feet or more, you’ll pay about $350 or higher.
15. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Douglas Keller, Community Manager & Personal Finance Expert, Payless Power
One nifty appliance to consider purchasing is a programmable thermostat. This device allows you to pre-set your temperature options for the early morning, when you’re asleep, after you’ve gone to work, and before you return home. They are a great way to optimize temperature and reduce the cost of air conditioning. There are even thermostats that learn your schedule from movement in the house. They can also be manipulated remotely and cost roughly $250. A standard programmable thermostat could cost anywhere from less than $100 to almost $200. Programmable thermostats can make your house cool only at times when you need it, and this helps you save on cost. You can also keep it extra cool when you’re at home for the same price.
16. Ditch Your Memory Foam Mattress
Leslie Fischer, Founder, Sustainable Slumber
One of the best tips so you can sleep comfortably cool without using an air conditioner is to ditch your memory foam mattress. This type of mattress traps heat and will make you feel too warm during the night. Invest in a new mattress that comes with layers of cooling gel that will help you sleep cool.
17. Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Julie Gurner, Real Estate Writer, Fit Small Business
Smart thermostats can make your life far more comfortable and keep your budget on track. To avoid having to pay high cooling bills for 24/7 cooling capability, you can set your smart thermostat to allow your home to be a bit warmer during the hours you are not home, and then have it adjust an hour or two prior to your arrival to the temperature you truly prefer.
18. Utilize Your Outdoor Space for Cooking
Katie Kuchta, Marketing Manager, LawnStarter Lawn Care
Turning on the oven will only add more heat to an already scorching house. Get outside and fire up the grill and enjoy the night air while the house cools down. You may want to install an outdoor awning or gazebo so your patio furniture doesn’t heat up in the daylight sun.
According to Alabama Realtors, planting trees and vines by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest, will help shade your home’s exterior. Choose trees that are native to your area for lesser maintenance. Also, choose trees that leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, because they provide shade in summer and allows the sun to warm your house when temperatures drop in autumn.
Whole house fans are much cheaper to operate compared to an air conditioning system. You will make your house cooler while keeping your ongoing energy costs low. LifeHacker recommends investing in a whole house fan, which will cost around $200 to $1,200, especially if you live in an area where you won’t need an air conditioner all the time.
In hot weather, your AC filters are working harder than usual. Today’s Homeowner recommends having your air conditioner filters replaced every month, especially during the peak season of using your air conditioner. This lets air flow easily and allows your AC system to run more efficiently, which can result in saving on energy consumption.
According to House Beautiful, putting plants in front of sunny windows allows the absorption of some of the sun’s energy that will otherwise heat up your home. This is the reason why investing in house plants is a great way to make your house feel cooler and greener.
Survival Life suggests placing box fans on the windows pointing outward to push the hot air out. Using fans as an exhaust is a great way to help keep your house cool rather than creating an artificial breeze.
According to Family Handyman, using incandescent light bulbs can help increase the temperature in your house. If you want to make your house cooler, switch out your old light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). Aside from keeping your house cool, CFL also lets you save on power usage and your electric bill.
Another great and inexpensive way to keep your house cool during the hot season is to install mini-blinds for your windows. According to Care2, mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40 percent to 50 percent. The cost of mini-blinds varies according to the product features and the size of your windows.
People who live in areas with lots of humidity feel warmer, stickier, and more uncomfortable. To feel cooler in high humidity, Common Sense Home recommends using a dehumidifier to help remove excess moisture from the air. This helps keep your house cooler even in hot temperatures.
There are many effective ways to keep your house cool during the hot season. Most of these will require an upfront investment, but such an investment will allow you to save on ongoing costs in the long run. If you’re trying to make your house cooler, make sure to check the above expert tips and use them as your guide.