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How to keep your house cool
Here are some ideas and projects that could keep your home cool.
A lot of us love basking in the warmth of the sun when we’re outside, however, when temperatures begin to soar, that hot heat can seem unbearable. With advances in technology and design, there are always new ways to keep cool.
There are a lot of strategies, which vary in cost and difficulty, to help your house stay cool in the ever-increasing heat of summer. There are also some larger projects to consider when heat proofing your home.
Tips to keep your house cool
- House orientation. This focuses on maximizing a property’s design according to the climate in order to maintain a comfortable temperature — think natural shade and breezes.
- Exterior design. This design aims to maximize the interior climate by focusing on the layout and materials of your home to help create a comfortable indoor climate, plus efficient energy use.
- Thermal mass. This is a building material’s ability to store and absorb heat energy and then release it into an area.
- Windows and shading. Thinking about where your current windows and overhangs are located, as well as considering where to put any new ones, will contribute to a cool temperature in your home.
- Air movement and ventilation. Where the walls, doors, doorways and windows sit in relation to each other can promote cool airflow throughout the house. Ventilation also contributes to airflow — if there’s no ventilation, there’s nowhere for hot air to escape.
- Insulation. Making sure you have the best insulation for your climate will help you heat and cool your home without blowing your budget by overusing air conditioners or heaters.
- Roof space. Hot air rises, so it’s always best to make sure that when it does, it can escape out of your house.
Renovations and small projects to keep your home cool
There are a number of things you can do to maximize your home’s cooling effects. We’ve broken them down based on small budget, standard or luxury renovations. There are some options that fall into each depending on how much you want to spend.
It may sound like a simple idea, but fans are an important part of staying cool. Buying a floor or pedestal fan is a great and cheap way to keep cool with the added bonus of portability.
Since most of these personal-style fans aren’t that expensive , you can get one for each bedroom.
Portable air conditioning
These cooling devices can move from room to room, but, you’ll need a window to push out the hot air through a duct. While they’re relatively cheap and easy to install, portable air conditioners are not very energy efficient and can also be loud. They can range from $100 to $500 depending on the brand, size and functions.
Replace your light bulbs
Light bulbs create a lot of heat — older style incandescent light bulbs give off approximately 90% of the energy they use as heat. A fluorescent bulb does better and only puts out 60% of the energy it uses as heat. The other option on the market is a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb — this bulb produces the least amount of heat.
|Amount of energy used in heat||90%||None||60%||4 times the heat of incandescent lights|
|Heat emitted in degrees||47.2||1.9||16.7||Hotter than incandescent|
The number one place where heat will seep into a house is through your windows. A quick update to your curtains or blinds can help reduce this.
You have a number of options if you’re looking to install blinds or upgrade the blinds you already have in your home. Depending on your budget and the aesthetic you’re looking for, you can get:
- Wood blinds
- Faux wood blinds
- Mini blinds
- Panel track blinds
- Honeycomb shades
- Woven wood shades
- Venetian shades
- Roman shades
- Rollers shades
- Sheers shades
- Solar shades
- Pleated shades
- Outdoor shades
Curtains range from soft, lace-like curtains that are breathable to heavy two-layer curtains that help keep the heat out of your home and trap the cold air in. You can get curtains online, at the store or buy custom-made depending on the fabric and style you want.
Window film is a thin layer of plastic that you can apply to a window to decrease the heat of the sun. You can purchase pre-cut pieces or get a whole roll that you can cut yourself to suit your needs. Static cling film doesn’t require adhesives, so it may be easier if you’re doing it yourself. Alternatively, some film can require adhesives, which is trickier to apply and may require tools.
Parts of your home can deteriorate over time and it could end up causing the loss of cool air and the intake of warm air. Doors and window frames, vents, skylights, exhaust fans, poorly fitted or shrunken floorboards and other ill-fitting junctions are just some areas where air can creep in and out.
There’s a simple and cheap do-it-yourself fix for any leaks you find around the house. You can pick up a tube of sealant and an applicator or adhesive gun from a hardware store for less than $50 depending on the type and amount you need.
Making sure any cracks or leaks are sealed will not only help keep your home cool by preventing heat from coming in and cool air from going out, it will also help with your electric bill. Your heating and cooling appliances won’t need to work as hard if none of the air is escaping.
Small tweaks to your garden and outdoor area are also a cheap way to make an impact on the temperature of your home. Planting shade-producing plants outside windows that get direct or constant sunlight will help lower the amount of heat taken into a room.
Standard renovations to keep your home cool
If you have a bit more cash to spend, you can make some changes to your window dressings that will help keep your home cool. From outdoor awnings to shutters to double-paned windows, there are a range of improvements you can make to cool your home.
Awnings or canopies
Awnings and canopies can cover a large area and help prevent the warmth of the sun from leaking into your windows. Three main factors can affect the cost:
You always have the option of opting for a manual awning to save some money. The material the awning is made of can also increase the cost — basic canvas is priced less than aluminum or a heavy-duty fabric that protects from UV rays.
Plantation shutters are adjustable indoor shutters that can help keep heat out of your home. The price changes based on the size of the windows and the materials used. Solid wood shutters are more expensive than PVC or other faux-wood shutters.
Reglaze your windows
Another option is to reglaze your windows. Window glazing effectively creates a seal between the glass and the wooden frame of the window to limit the heat coming in during summer and keeping the warmth in during winter.
You could place ceiling fans in each room to increase air circulation. There are a range of options and sizes, but they tend to range from $35 to $500 and up. If you can’t do the work yourself, you’ll need to get an electrician to install the fans — installation costs vary.
Split system air conditioning
Split system air conditioning units are wall mounted units that also have an outdoor unit that’s usually housed on the side of the house or on the ground outside. These units can usually only cool a single room, or a very small area, and can range in cost from $650 to $1500 or more.
Ventilation and air flow
Adding ventilation fans in your roof will work to push excess hot air out. Another option is to install a whole-house fan in the roof near the center of your home to take all the hot air and push it out through vents that you’ve added. Adding doors to hallways and stairwells can also control where the air flows inside your house.
Adding additional insulation to your roof, wall or floor can help reduce cool air from escaping in the summer. There’s a variety of insulation available, so you should do your research. Different climates and different areas of the home require different types of insulation.
It’s best to get insulation professionally installed. Installers also buy insulation in bulk, so they save on the cost of insulation, which they can pass onto their customers.
Small adjustments to your outdoor landscaping can help direct the breeze to the doors and windows and allow for full airflow in the house.
Adding shade-producing trees or bushes by sunny points around your home will also help keep your home cool.
Financing options for your next renovation
Luxury renovations to keep your home cool
Adding outdoor shutters to your windows will help keep your house cool and has the added bonus of additional security. These are installed outside of your window and are typically made of wood, wood composites, plastics, aluminum or steel — they can block out sound and sun.
Costs vary depending on the size of the windows, the material you opt for and whether you opt for automatic, manual roll down or battery-operated shutters.
|Type of shutter||Cost range|
Patio or pergola
Adding a patio or pergola to your home will not only block the sun and keep your indoors cool, it can also act as an additional outdoor room for the days when inside is just too much. You could chose aluminum, wood, resin or vinyl and whatever size you desire when thinking about adding a patio or pergola to your outdoor space — prices can span from $500 to over $5,000.
Ducted air conditioning are more expensive to install and run than other air conditioning types and use more power than a split system air conditioner. However, there are some benefits, most systems allow you to set up zones so you can cool a living room during the day and cool a bedroom at night.
Adding a programmable thermostat will allow you to set appropriate temperatures. You’ll also have the option to choose times for the system to automatically switch on and off.
Basic systems in an apartment or small house could cost around $6,000 with installation. For an average-sized single story house, it could be anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 — a more complicated two-story house could cost you $15,000 or more.
Ventilation and additional air movement
If you are making some major changes to your home, you could install additional doors or windows in areas that allow for effective cross ventilation in your home. You could add a window in a wall that blocks the afternoon breeze, you could adjust the width of a door or you could add an internal window to get airflow from one room into another.
Consider how your design can help your home’s ability to cool. For instance, you could put mulch beds or other ground cover under windows to avoid reflections from the sun.
You should pay attention to the plants and trees, if your home gets a nice afternoon breeze, make sure your greenery isn’t blocking the airflow into your home.
If you’re planning for a larger, in-depth renovation, you should consider the position of your home. See how the sun sits in relation to your house to make sure you maximize natural cooling effects.
You can also consider what materials you use on your home. For instance, brick is more effective than wood at soaking up the heat without letting it seep into your home — vinyl is also a worthy alternative. Lighter colors on your outer surfaces can reflect the sun rather than soaking the heat in.
A full renovation can be a lengthy project, and you’ll need factor in cashflow needed for:
- Labor costs
- Temporary displacement
Taking out a home equity loan could aid you in funding your full renovation, plus you’ll be adding sales value to your home if you plan on selling down the line.
Other tips to stay cool in your home
If you don’t have the time or the budget to make renovations to your home, these hints will help you keep cool during the summer:
- Be strategic about the use of appliances that produce heat, such as ovens, dishwashers and dryers — use them at night when it’s coolest.
- Open doors and windows in the morning and at night to take in the cooler air.
- Paint your roof and outdoor areas in lighter colors so they reflect heat.
- Soak your feet in a bucket of cool or cold water when you are sitting in one spot for a little while or just before you go to bed to cool your body.
- Put a frozen bag of vegetables on your head or around your neck to keep cool.
- Put some ice in a tray in front of the fan for an extra cooling effect.
- Stay low when you can. Hot air rises, so your ground floor or basement will keep you the coolest.
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