Stay cool when the heat is on

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Image courtesy InHabitat

Keeping our homes cool and comfortable during Minnesota’s hot, humid summer months is a challenge for all of us. And it sounds like we’re getting ready for a scorcher next week!

Many of our daily activities produce heat and moisture inside our homes. But a few simple changes in our routines can reduce temperature and humidity levels, adding comfort while also saving on air conditioning costs:

  • Use appliances at cooler times. Plan to use appliances such as ovens, clothes dryers and dishwashers in the evening, when it is cooler. These devices can give off a lot of heat when they operate, adding to the air conditioning load.

  • Turn it off. Make sure that any unneeded devices or lighting, especially incandescent lights, are turned off or unplugged. Computers, TVs, gaming devices—anything that uses electricity—adds heat to your home.
  • Properly ventilate. When bathing or taking a shower, use exhaust fans to quickly remove heat and moisture.
  • Let in cooler air. If you don’t have air conditioning, open a window in the evening on the lower level to draw cool air in and open a window at a higher level to allow heated air to escape. Never use a fan to blow air out of the house because dangerous backdrafting of your water heater might occur.
  • Use your air conditioner wisely. For homes with central air conditioning systems and during the hottest and most humid summer days, it’s generally best to keep windows shut and use a programmable thermostat.
  • Use fans when you are at home. Fans are one of the most economical ways to keep cool. But remember to turn off the fan when you leave the room. Fans create a wind chill effect that cools people, not rooms.

To learn more about the role of fans in cooling homes, as well as long-term solutions for keeping the heat out (such as window awnings, sunscreens, trees and overhangs), see the Home Cooling section of the Home Energy Guide (pdf). The U.S. Department of Energy also offers tips for keeping homes cool and saving energy.

More: There was also a recent article written in the Washington Post that gets more wonky about cooling in the summer without the use of A/C units. It was written by a reporter up in Red Lake Falls, MN, so it’s definitely relevant for our state!


Get Answers blog series The Get Answers series on the Energy Stories Blog offers useful tips from CERTs and our partners to help you get to the bottom of your energy efficiency and renewable energy questions. Click here to see more stories in the series >>

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