With summer well underway and temperatures rising, homeowners want to ensure their houses are keeping heat under control.
Government agencies and private organizations are ready with advice for keeping it cool and saving energy. A scan of websites produced these suggestions:
U.S. Dept. of Energy
If it’s cool at night, turn off the cooling system and open the windows. After waking, shut windows and blinds to capture the cool air. Install window coverings that prevent heat gain.
Keep the house warmer when away from home. A programmable thermostat can help.
But the department noted, “Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.’’
Schedule regular maintenance of cooling systems. Avoid placing lamps or television sets near the thermostat, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Ensure objects are not blocking airflow through registers and vacuum them regularly to remove dust.
Depending on the layout, several window fans can work together to pull air through a home. For instance, fans in several upstairs bedrooms will assure each bedroom is cooled and work together to pull air in through the rest of the home.
Use a bathroom fan when showering or bathing to remove heat and humidity. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside.
Avoid the oven on hot days – use a microwave or grill outside. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Take short showers instead of baths and turn down the temperature setting on the water heater. Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Seal leaks to prevent hot air from seeping into a house.
First Energy – West Penn Power
Keep refrigerators and freezers as full as possible. Frozen or cold items help keep other items cool, reducing the amount of work they do to maintain a lower temperature.
Close rooms not regularly used and air conditioning vents in those rooms.
Check air conditioner and furnace fan filters. Clogged filters waste energy and money by forcing HVAC systems to work harder.
Use the thinnest of sheets - cotton instead of flannel to keep a bed cool.
“If you have a stone or brick patio directly adjacent to your house — or even a cement front/back porch or sidewalk — try hosing it off on really hot days and see if it helps keep your house cooler. A breeze blowing across a cool, wet surface acts as a natural air conditioner,’’ the organization suggested, adding, “Place a shallow bowl or tray of ice water in front of a directional or window fan to increase the chill factor, or even hang damp strips of cloth in front of fans or open windows when there’s a breeze.’’
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure pets have a shady place to get out of the sun. Be careful not to over-exercise them. Keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
“Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool — not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually,’’ observes ASPCA. “Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his/her fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.’’
“Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.’’
More information on beating the heat is available at these websites.