The Midwest may have harsh winters, but at least it has got brutally hot and humid summers to make up for them. Even a short walk around the block this time of year can have the same effect as swimming through a pressure cooker filled with blackstrap molasses. Home ought to be your refuge from the perpetual bake outside, but why feed all of your money to your air conditioner when you could instead spend it on better things, such as all the superb goods and services offered by Shop.Dine.Live. Magazine’s generous advertisers? Here are just some of the ways you can stay frosty without turning your pockets inside out paying for electricity.
Trees not only give a property a statelier appearance and provide exercise for the local squirrels — they do a heroic job of keeping the sun from touching your house, too. Several shade trees do especially well in our climate. The Norway, red, silver, and sugar varieties of maple will consistently grow to dozens of feet in height, and you can get at least a couple of cups of syrup out of even a single tree if you would like to do far more work than so little an amount of syrup justifies. Oaks always make a fine addition to a lawn, provided you aren’t averse to stepping on at least one acorn with your bare foot in your lifetime. You may also plant elms so long as you pick a variety that’s resistant to Dutch elm disease, or lindens if you’ve got the space they need to properly flourish.
Awnings will save you a lot of juice in the summer. According to the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association, fabric awnings and exterior shades can reduce a home’s cooling costs by as much as 50 percent during the summertime! That could easily translate to as much as three figures during a hot year, which means an awning can pay for itself over the course of its lifetime. Canvas awnings are the most popular by far owing to their resilience, affordability, and flexibility, but sturdier metal awnings do a better job of standing up to heavy snow and winds. A good supplier can work with you to make sure your new awnings complement the look of your home perfectly, raising its curb appeal at the same time they keep it cool.
Hang Thermal Curtains
Thermal curtains aren’t as high tech as their name makes them out to be — they’re just sheets of thick cotton or polyester, but boy do they ever work. Thermal curtains reduce light intrusion by up to 99 percent, making them doubly useful for when you’d like to sleep in or you had one too many glasses of Chardonnay the night before. The best thermal curtains are made of triple woven fabric and have at least two layers, and some are even able to dampen noise intrusion as well. Thermal curtains’ affordability and ease of installation make them very accessible, and unless your property manager is okay with you installing awnings (they aren’t), thermal curtains are about the only way to go about energy free home cooling when you live in an apartment.
Install a Solar Attic Fan
An improperly ventilated attic can heat to a sweltering 150 degrees on a hot summer day, something which not only translates to more sweat on your brow but also a perfect breeding ground for mold. A solar attic fan installs right on the roof of your house and utilizes a photovoltaic panel to power a fan that sucks hot air and moisture right outside where it belongs. The device not only measurably lowers cooling costs, but further lengthens the lifespan of your shingles by sparing them from cooking so much in the sun. Any contractor or handyman worth their salt can install a solar attic fan, or you can even do it yourself! (Please note that Shop.Dine.Live. Magazine categorically denies any responsibility for the outcome of you going on your roof, although it is a good place to find lost frisbees.)
Make Lifestyle Changes
You don’t necessarily have to do anything to your home — even just shaking up your routine a bit can help you to stay cool without blasting the air conditioner. Sleep downstairs in the summertime, because hot air likes to rise up into the upper levels of your home and stay there where it can bother you. Switch over to light linen sheets, and take your socks off before tucking in. Eat a spicy dinner every night if you don’t mind spending the money you’ll save on AC on antacids instead, and cook outside rather than soaking your kitchen with oven heat. You’ll notice that you’re cooler in no time!
By David Scheller