When temperatures rise outside, home interiors get hotter, too. Stifling-hot rooms are miserable and can mean sleepless nights. A whole-house air conditioning system may sound good, but you need faster, less expensive passive cooling solutions. Fortunately, there are a number of cooling methods that take only a few minutes or up to an hour to employ. With any or all of these methods in place, soon you'll find temperatures in your room dropping to far more comfortable, sane levels.
Cover Windows During the Day
Window glass is a compromise between energy efficiency and the basic human desire for natural light. Hot outdoor temperatures are best controlled inside by blocking heat and direct sunlight. In that sense, a room with no windows or small windows would be ideal. But you can achieve the same effect by installing thermal curtains or by draping thick, soft materials like bedspreads or lightweight down comforters over windows during the day when heat is at its peak.
Open Windows at Night
After the sun has set, temperatures outside usually will dip lower than temperatures inside. If this has happened, remove the covers from the windows and open the windows as far as possible. If you have double-hung windows (windows with two sashes, one on top and one on the bottom), you might not be aware that most modern double-hung windows' top sashes can open, too.
Promote a Cross Breeze
Letting in the air at night is good, but keeping the air moving is even better. If you have two windows that are in line with each other or even positioned diagonally, make sure that both are open. You can further encourage the air to move through your room by placing a fan in each window. One fan blows in air from the outside, while the other window is reversed and blows air outside.
Skip Using Hot Appliances
Most appliances give off some residual heat. Then there is that other category of appliances designed for the sole purpose of generating massive amounts of heat, namely the clothes dryer and the oven. For the dryer, consider substituting with an indoor drying rack. As for the oven, a microwave is a definite improvement, but even that generates some heat. Leave the cooking for another day and instead stay cool by exploring the possibility of delicious no-cook dinners.
Trying to sleep in a sweltering bedroom can be the absolute worst. Since heat rises, start by lowering your sleep area, either by putting the mattress on the floor or by finding a lower place in the house, if possible. Next, purchase a cooling pillow specially designed to draw heat away from your head. A chilled or frozen water bottle or gel cooling packs in the foot of the bed will help your entire body feel cooler, not just your feet. Finish off with lighter weight covers and 100 percent cotton sheets.
Readjust Your Ceiling Fan
Consider yourself a smart energy user if you've been using your ceiling fan in winter. During that season, fans on the clockwise setting better distribute warm air. But this is exactly what you want to avoid during the summer. In the summer, your fan should be running counter-clockwise. Turn off the fan, stand on a chair, and find a small switch on the side of the fan housing to make the change.
Dehumidify the Air
One trick of air conditioners is that, in addition to delivering chilled air, they remove moisture-laden air from the room. You can duplicate the latter with a dehumidifier. High-quality dehumidifiers can remove as much as 70 pints of water per day from the home.
Curtain Off and Close Up Unused Rooms
Rooms that you aren't using seriously impede your cooling efforts. Veritable saunas, they waft unwanted heat from one room to the next. By closing the door of unused bedrooms or by keeping the bathroom door always shut, you effectively trap that heat and keep it out of the way. However, before closing off a room, shut the curtains tight and even cover windows with a thick bedspread or comforter.
Shut Off Incandescent Lights
Incandescent lights, which produce a significant amount of heat, have largely been phased out in the United States in favor of cool CFL or LED lights. Does this mean that you don't have any of these bulbs anymore? Not necessarily. Not all types of incandescents have been banned. For one, your home's ceiling may have energy-gobbling incandescent recessed lights or your home may still retain those older, phased-out bulbs, especially in out-of-the-way areas such as ceiling light fixtures or in closets.
Install a Small Window Unit Air Conditioner
It might seem obvious to state that installing a window unit A/C will cool down a room. But if you have avoided purchasing and installing one because you think they are too expensive or difficult to install, think again. Window unit A/Cs are cheaper than ever before, thanks to the global marketplace and online shopping. Most home centers carry stacks of room cooling-sized units during the summer, and you may be able to have one shipped to you in a day or two. Window units can be considered eco-friendlier than whole-house central units because they spot-cool a room rather than wastefully broadcast-cool the entire house.