Top tips on how to keep cool this summer
It’s so hot! How can I keep cool without running up my air-conditioning bill?
Dear Too Hot,
We are all feeling it, and none of us wants a whopping great electricity bill at the end of the month. One thought is to start thinking about an alternate energy source like solar power. However, in the interim there are a few tricks that can help you keep cool at home without running your air conditioning all day.
Add an awning
If you live in a condominium community, you’ll probably have to go through the effort of asking permission to add anything to the exterior of your home. But, if you’re able, an awning can go a long way towards lowering the temperature on the inside of your house. Will you have to lay out money upfront? Sure. Will it pay for itself in the end? Yes.
Awnings not only add personality to a home’s exterior but offer an excellent defence against the sun in areas with perpetually hot weather. Exterior awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 per cent for south-facing windows and 77 per cent for west-facing windows.
Solar films and solar shades, which block UV rays and keep some of the sun’s heat away, can have a similar effect without the architectural change.
If you’re considering different interior window covering options and heat coming through your windows is a concern, blinds may be a good choice. There are thermal blinds, which have some visibility through them which allow you to still see outside. They can help reduce heat gain by up to 45 per cent, while still having the option of raising or opening them easily whenever you want.
Carefully select drapes
If you’re going with drapes for your windows, you’ll want to consider more than the way they look. A drapery’s ability to reduce heat loss and gain depends on several factors, including fabric type (closed or open weave), and colour. Studies demonstrate that medium-coloured draperies with white thermal backings can reduce heat gains by up to 33 per cent. Draperies also stay cooler in the summer than some other window treatments because their pleats and folds lose heat through convection.
For maximum heat and light control, look for blackout fabric. Previously the purview of drapery makers only, drapery fabric with a built-in blackout lining is now available in fabric stores. A high-quality blackout fabric or lining blocks 100 per cent of light (great for children’s rooms in the summer). New advancements in the production of drapery lining have brought the price down and made it a better, softer-draping product than before. It is now easy to find in panels that can be added to the back of existing drapery. They can be cut to size by the homeowner and, because the fabric does not fray, does not require hemming. This is the most immediate, and exceptionally effective, method of blocking heat transfer.
Put window coverings on a timer
Motorised window shades and automatic blinds are some of the hottest products for the savvy, smart homebuyer who wants to maximise their energy savings and have a smarter home.
The ability to control your shades with a smart phone, or have them automatically open or close based on timers or preprogrammed conditions, is not only a cool home feature but it saves time and energy by using or defending against the sun’s rays.
This is key for people who want to make sure west-facing windows are covered during sunset and want east-facing windows to get natural light while driving home from work. Motorised blinds and shades can be part of a complete custom home-automation system, or they can be added one room at a time as your budget allows or needs require. One of the nice things about automatic shades in a home-automation system is that each room can be programmed to run its own scenes in its own way, depending on how the room is used.
A fan placed in the middle of the room can give you some relief from the heat, allowing you to turn down your air conditioning. On a really hot day, you may also want to think about getting creative with your fan. Not even an air conditioner can give off a faux sea breeze but this simple trick can: fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature. Trust me it works.
Reduce the humidity in your home
Energy companies and green experts recommend bathing, doing laundry and cooking during cooler times of the day, which can also help you control the heat in your home. If you have to use the shower, washer or oven in the heat of day, counteract the heat rise by helping control the humidity. Turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air, but be sure to turn them off when you’re finished so they don’t extract cooled air from the house.
Get a ceiling fan
A ceiling fan doesn’t lower the temperature in the room, but it can make you more comfortable by circulating the air, allowing you to give your air conditioner a break, or at least turn it down.
Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate
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