Without air conditioners, nobody would look forward to the summer. These wonderful inventions make the heat bearable, enabling both working and relaxing indoors.
However, air conditioning can significantly drive up your utility bill, straining your budget. And if you're concerned about the environment, you may have reservations about how much fossil fuel power plants have to burn to power millions of AC devices. Matter of fact, there are also concerns about whether AC units raise outdoor temperatures above what they should be at night.
So it makes sense for everyone to look for other ways to keep our homes cool, without being disruptive to the environment and our finances. Here are eight smart ways to regulate home temperature without using the AC.
1. Lock the Sun Out
The summer sun is notoriously hot, and the more your house is exposed to it, the warmer it will be inside. One obvious way to regulate your home temperature is to lower the amount of sunlight that gets inside your house.
Window tints, shades, and blinds are quite effective at blocking most photons, while allowing a bit of illumination to seep through. Curtains are also effective in regulating sunlight, provided you choose the right colors to deflect unwanted light and heat. The best colors for summer curtains are white, red, yellow, and orange.
2. Tweak Your Ceiling Fan Settings
Installing a simple ceiling fan can help you control your home temperature in a less energy intensive way than AC and heating systems. Modern fans allow you to set the movement to clockwise or counterclockwise directions.
When the fan blades move in a clockwise direction, they attract hot air, which is then redistributed throughout the room via the fan motions. When the blades move counterclockwise, they push the hot air lower and create some sort of "windchill" effect in the room. Thus, to lower your indoor temperatures during the summer, set your ceiling fans to move in a counterclockwise direction at high speeds.
3. Switch Off Heat-Producing Appliances
On a hot afternoon, the last thing you want is to deal with additional heat from electrical appliances. Common home appliances that are known to emit high amounts of heat include ovens, irons, and blow-dryers, washing machines, and dryers. If possible, keep your toasters and water heaters off during hot days, too.
4. Place Your Fans Strategically
If you have other fans (apart from the ones on the ceiling), play around with their placement to get your desired temperature levels. Keep in mind that fans by themselves don't cool the air, though they do increase the airflow.
One of the places you can place fans is on your windows. If you can, set them in an elevated position on high speeds. This way, the blowers will suck out the hot air from the room through convection, while pulling in the cooler air from outside. If you're sleeping, put an electric fan near your upper body, and you won't wake up in a puddle of sweat.
5. Keep Your Doors Open
Naturally, only one side of your house is exposed to direct sunlight at any time (assuming your house is built in a conventional shape). If you open all your windows during a hot day, you will note a cool breeze flowing through. By the same principle, it makes sense to keep all doors, even in unused rooms, fully open when it's uncomfortably warm. This allows cool air to freely flow through the house, lowering the house temperature.
6. Control Humidity
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Depending on your climate, humidity may be higher on hot days, which means your sweat won't evaporate as quickly. As a result, your body temperature will stay high. High humidity can also mess up your respiration, and provide a friendly environment for molds and bacteria to grow.
In general, the ideal humidity for comfort during the summer is about 50%. Anything above 55% is uncomfortable for most people. You can measure your home's humidity using a hygrometer, which costs around $10.
To control humidity, get a dehumidifier to suck in the excess water in the atmosphere. The higher the humidity levels, the larger the capacity needed to lower it. They might be expensive, but they are a worthy investment, as they can effectively regulate home temperature.
7. Switch Your Bulbs
Incandescent bulbs produce light when their inner filament is heated until it starts glowing. These bulbs produce so much heat that they take minutes to cool down after switching them off. Hence, your temperature regulation program should include getting rid of all incandescent bulbs in your home.
The alternative is LED bulbs, which don't generate infrared radiation, and thus don't impact your indoor temperature. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) also don't generate high amounts of heat, and are also more energy efficient.
8. Plant Lots of Trees
As mentioned earlier, minimizing the amount of sunlight that gets to your house helps keep things cool. Planting trees near your house helps filter the harmful rays from the sun. The best places to plant trees are the east and west sides, for obvious reasons.
The best type of trees to plant for cooling are deciduous varietals, which typically have lots of leaves. These will create a buffer of shade around your home, reducing temps inside. And when the interior heat gets really unbearable, you can sit under the bows on the cool grass, listening to the birds.