Anyone reading this who lives in Portland knows that it has been hot lately. I mean really hot! Triple digit temperatures are a rarity in this part of the world and as such air conditioning isn’t a given in your average PDX home. According to some reports, as many as 270,000 homes in the Portland area do not have air conditioning. When the outside temperature reaches 105 degrees this can be a recipe for a very uncomfortable home environment.
Here are a few tips to help keep your home cool. Many of these tips apply even if you don’t have air conditioning and can help you keep your energy costs to a minimum during extreme summer heat.
This one might feel silly, but I use it often to help me get to sleep on hot summer nights. Put your sheets in a plastic bag and then place them in your freezer for a few minutes. Cotton sheets tend to work best. Once they are sufficiently cool, make the bed and you will have a nice cool little nest to lay on. Obviously your sheets won’t stay cold all night long, but they will provide enough relief to help you get to sleep.
Make It Dark
In the early morning hours make it a point to close up your home nice and tight and to shut off your lights. Depending on how well insulated your home is, up to 30% of unwanted heat comes through the windows. In addition, even the most energy efficient light bulbs give off heat. Mitigating these two factors as much as possible will keep oppressive heat out of your home.
Ditch The Incandescent Light Bulbs
While we are on the subject of light bulbs, If you ever needed motivation to make the switch to CFLs, or compact fluorescent lamps, this is it. Incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy in the heat they emit, so tossing them to the curb will make a small difference in cooling your home while lowering your electric bill.
Keep Doors Inside The Home Open
In the winter I often recommend people close off doors to contain heat into certain areas of the home. During the summer you will want as much air flow as possible. Assuming privacy isn’t an issue, keep as many doors open as you can to allow air to move about the home.
Get Strategic With Your Fan
Fans don’t so much “cool” the air as they keep air moving around, which, as it moves over your skin and helps your sweat evaporate, makes you feel cooler than you would be if the air were still. Now that you know that, set up your fans in windows or hallways so you get an awesome cross breeze, drawing in cooler air from one part of your home (or outside) and pushing the warm air elsewhere. Think of your house or your room as a PC with a hot processor in it that needs airflow, and set up your fans accordingly.