Here are some great tips on how you can stay cool during hot weather without using air conditioning and save a lot of money on your utility bills too!
Electricity costs are not getting any lower, so it can be a huge boost to the family household budget to know how you can cope in the heat without that power hungry AC gobbling up thousands of watts of energy every hour.
Of course, if you live in an area that has very hot summers and you're are lucky enough to live in a home that already has AC installed, it's just way too easy to forget about the expense and just run the system to be comfortable.
That's great all the while you're able to sit there in your swimsuit relaxing in front of the TV, but not so great when your quarterly electricity bill arrives!
So this article is not just for those without an air conditioner to keep them cool when the weather outside is uncomfortably hot, but for everyone who wants to add some common sense to their comfort and stay cool or save money (or both)!
Keep the Sun Off
The first and probably most obvious tip to stay cool is to stop your home from rapidly heating up in the first place--by keeping the sun off its walls and roof where possible. The sun's rays are powerfully hot in summer and when they are bathing your home with that heat, the bricks and mortar that form your home's walls as well as the roof tiles that are designed to keep the rain from getting through will heat up quickly and to a pretty substantial temperature.
That heat will radiate inward through the walls to the interior of your home, heating the air and making it feel uncomfortably hot. In the attic, the lack of a good radiant barrier on the inside of the roof tiles will similarly allow the heated tiles from radiating their heat into the loft space, raising the temperature substantially. If you ever went into an un-insulated attic in summer, you'd know the feeling!
Shade Your Home
The best way to cut down on all that heat is to stop the sun's rays from hitting your roof and walls by shading them. A natural shade provider would be a big old tree, with a sun-blocking canopy that would keep the house shaded and several degrees cooler throughout the day.
However, a lot of homeowners deliberately clear trees from the vicinity of their homes because they are afraid of damage caused by falling limbs in a storm. That's sensible to a point, but it does rob you of some free, natural shading in summer.
Another way is to erect some artificial shading with open mesh canopies that cover the roof, keeping the direct rays of the sun at bat and reducing the roof's temperature by a surprising amount. To augment that shading would be to fit smaller, strategically placed awnings that will keep the walls cooler during the day.
Obviously, you don't need to keep all the walls covered with awnings, only those that get the sun at different times of the day. For example, a north-facing wall would probably not get any sun at all whereas a south-facing wall would get the sun for most of the day. Shading just those walls will go a long way to keeping your home a lot cooler.
Having window blinds on those windows that face the sun is another way to cut down on interior heat. They work by simply not allowing the sun's rays in through the glass and heating the inside like a greenhouse.
Even having heavy curtains closed on sun-facing windows can help reduce the amount of heat getting in, although they can make the house dark inside. External blinds or awnings are better as they allow light and not heat in.
Another oft used trick in hot regions to keep the temperature of masonry down is to paint the exterior walls of buildings white. A light color such as white reflects the sun's rays, reducing the amount of heat the walls can absorb.
Dark walls are prone to absorb more of the sun's heat and radiate that heat inside. So it's always best to think bright and go white!
Install an Attic Fan
Attics tend to get hot during hot weather, even when they're well insulated. This is because heat from inside the building will rise into them, then get trapped by the insulating barrier back of the roof tiles.
To help reduce the heat inside an attic, you can fit an attic fan with openings at each end of the loft space. They will keep the air moving and allow air to pass through to the outside and not heat up in a static space.
Get Out the Barbecue
One thing that the household cook hates most in summer is spending time in a steamy hot kitchen cooking food over a hot stove!
If that's you, then there is a great way to avoid the heat and stay cool while you're indoors.
It doesn't take a lot of figuring out to realize that the heat from that kitchen is radiating throughout the house, raising the temperature.
With a cooker blasting out heat to cook your family meal, you're effectively heating up the interior of your home without needing or wanting to!
So by choosing to cook your food instead on a barbecue outdoors, all that heat is kept outdoors and your home is not unnecessarily heated up artificially by the stove.
Change Your Lighting to LEDs
When the sun goes down, the interior of a home can still be kept too warm by something as simple as the lights.
Old style incandescent light bulbs give off a lot of heat, especially 100 watt bulbs. And that heat is going where?
Instead of all that wasted heat that you don't want, not to mention the extra electricity that you're using and paying for, save yourself some money and reduce the heating effect on your home. Change your old incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs.
LED lights emit mostly light and almost no heat. So you get all the light for a fraction of the energy costs and none of the unwanted heat too!
Get a Swamp Cooler
If after doing all of the above, you home still feels uncomfortably warm inside, there is one other way to stay cool without resorting to expensive air conditioning. You could get yourself a surprisingly effective evaporative cooler from the hardware store or buy one online from a well known store.
Evaporative coolers (swamp coolers) use around 1/20th the energy of AC yet still manage to deliver a welcome blast of icy cold air when you need some cooling down on a hot summer day. You can read all about this kind of cooling device by clicking the link at the start of this paragraph!
These portable evaporative coolers are often mistaken for portable air conditioners without exhaust hoses, but they are not ACs at all. They produce cold air through evaporation, so there is no compressor to run, no refrigerant gas and therefore no hot exhaust air to vent to the outside unlike all portable ACs.
Using a swamp cooler to keep yourself cool is an effective and economical way to enjoy a comfortable atmosphere indoors or out without needing an air conditioner (depending on yoru local climate and humidity levels).
Please read my articles on these evaporative coolers (see above) because you're going to be pleasantly surprised by them if you haven't encountered them before.