The summer months are upon us, and that can only mean two things-high temperatures and higher utility costs. But there are some measures you can take to cool off without draining your wallet. The next time you're tempted to turn down the thermostat, consider these tips. Ingredients of a Southern Summer While there's never a shortage of sun in the South, the same can also be said about humidity. These combined forces create an oppressive, stifling effect that can quickly turn a nice day into an unpleasant one. To make your home a retreat from the sweltering heat, check these items for maintaining comfort.
- Use blinds, screens, draperies, window films, and awnings to prevent excess sunlight-and heat-from entering your house. Large expanses of glass may provide great views, but they also contribute to indoor heat gain.
- Check the weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows. The smaller the amount of condiboned air that escapes to the outdoors, the better.
- Make sure that kitchen hoods, clothes dryers, and bathrooms are vented to the outside. Any appliance or activity that produces heat or moisture within your house will naturally add to your struggle to stay cool.
- Set your refrigerator temperature between 38 and 40 degrees, and the freezer no colder than zero. Some fridges have energy-efficient settings that are already programmed or that can be switched on.
- Use foam insulation or inexpensive gaskets behind the covers at wall outlets that connect to hot attics, basements, and crawlspaces. Walls dividing these areas may not be adequately insulated, and any unsealed openings could allow cool air to escape.
- Turn on ceiling fans only when you are present in the room. Because they circulate air instead of cooling it, their operation is of little use if you're not around to enjoy it.
- To keep moisture from getting into the crawlspace, and subsequently your house, cover the underlying dirt with a 6-mil-thick plastic. This protective measure will also help reduce the growth of mold and mildew.
Have your unit examined and serviced by a reliable maintenance center that specializes in such work. These checkups should be done on a regular basis, preferably in the late spring.
- Change out interior air filters according to their recommended replacement dates (usually about every month). Clogged, dirty filters not only fail to keep indoor air clean, but they also force your a.c. unit to work that much harder.
(Note: For more information on air filters, see page 146 in the March 2001 issue of Southern Living.)
- Verify that your attic is properly ventilated and insulated. Air circulation among the rafters will lower the temperature during warm months and prevent damaging moisture buildup year-round.
- Installing an attic exhaust fan can also help. Be sure also that boxes, insulation, or other items do not block the soffit vents at your eaves.