Keeping Cool

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 There’s been a Heat wave across parts of the country, wild fires blazing and the season has just begun! So I thought it would be good to build on the tips Mike mentioned last week.  Here are a few things you can look at to keep your cool as we head into summer: 

  1. Keep the heat out!  During the day, if it’s cooler inside than outside, keep windows shut.  And keep window shades down to block out direct sunlight.  Open the windows at night if it’s cooler outside than in.  Solar shades can help. 
  2. Ceiling fans (and other fans) help you stay comfortable—but only while you’re in the room.  The fan motors actually generate heat, so turn them off when you’re not there.
  3. Use a bath fan vented to the outside to remove the heat and moisture created by showering.  If you don’t have a bath fan, have one installed its useful for many reasons.
  4. Mike recently talked about keeping cool in the kitchen; use an exhaust fan to remove heat and moisture created by cooking.  This has the added benefit of removing pollutants, especially if you cook with gas.
  5. Use efficient lighting and appliances.  Incandescent and halogen lights actually use most of their energy creating heat instead of light.  Not only does this means you’re overpaying for lighting, but in the summer you’re creating a lot of unwanted heat in the rooms you’re trying to keep cool.  Compact florescent light bulbs are good LED’s are even better.  
  6. Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? If so, make sure to seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces.  As much as 30% of the air you cool can escape outside through leaky ducts.
  7. Insulate and air-seal your attic.  In the summer, temperatures in the attic often climb to more than 140o.    Proper insulation can keep this heat from conducting down into your home, but first…  Remember that your insulation only works if air isn’t moving through it.  Seal around chimneys, flues, plumbing penetrations, and recessed lighting, for example.   See our earlier post Insulate to Stay Cool .
  8. As we mentioned recently with a central air-conditioner it’s important to keep it tuned up—EPA and DOE recommending maintenance every year.   If it’s more than 10 years old, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for ENERGY STAR.  If you buying a window air-conditioner or dehumidifier, look for the ENERGY STAR, too. 
  9. Planting deciduous trees on the south and west sides of a house can help keep your home cool in the summer.  In many parts of the country, maples, oaks, and birches are good trees to consider.  Because they drop their leaves in the fall, they let sunlight through to help warm your house in the winter.  Landscaping is about more than looks! 
  10. New low-e windows with a low “solar heat gain coefficient” (SHGC) can block the heat from the sun but may be a costly measure if that’s the only reason you’re replacing them.

To really find the trouble spots in your home, and to be sure that they’re addressed properly, get a comprehensive home assessment.  GreenHomes America can provide this, and GreenHomes trained and certified crews can even install your improvements.

And remember that after a home is tightened up, combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters should be tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.  GreenHomes does this testing on every project it completes.

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One Response to “Keeping Cool”

  1. This July, Wildfires Brings to Mind Staying Safe When the Heat is Hazardous « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] used to it, very high temps can surprise us and leave folks unprepared.  We often provide cooling tips, and they’re worth revisiting.  Here are a couple of important reminders we’ve posted in the […]

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