Thought much about keeping a cool home – without air conditioning? Try a little “proactive shading…”
An Oklahoma summer can be pretty brutal. By August the temps can rise into the triple digits – along with your cooling bill. But there are several things that you can do to help lower cooling costs and, until the harshest months, maybe even keep the A/C off altogether. Some are rather obvious, some might seem impractical, but all of these tips are guaranteed to help keep your home cool and more comfortable throughout Oklahoma’s dog days.
(Don’t) Let the Sunshine In
Keep the sun from coming through windows by keeping the blinds and drapes shut during the day. Any sunlight that makes it through the window will turn into heat. If your window covering doesn’t completely shut out the light, consider overlaying a light fabric over it. Exterior or interior shutters are a classic accent that will help reduce the heat. They also offer protection against break-ins and bad weather.
Awnings on windows can greatly reduce the amount of heat the sun can generate inside your home. Larger patio awnings that can cover the entirety of your patio doors are ideal for keeping the sun rays at bay. You might also consider applying a reflective window film to keep out the sunlight. Not all film is created equal, so when shopping for the right kind be mindful of the purchasing the appropriate value.
Portable fans are an old standby and can really help to cool down rooms. Placing fans in open windows at night to move the cool air are great for closed rooms. During the day, especially in the heat of summer, fans can help keep the body temperature lower – and help to evaporate perspiration. But portable fans can only offer so much relief when the air is heavy and hot.
Ceiling fans, when they are spinning counter clockwise, will push the air straight down (which is what you want in the summer). The warmer the weather is, the higher the speed should be. In the winter, the fan should run in the opposite direction – and slower. A whole-house fan is also a great way to cool your home and keep utilities down. They work by drawing the warm air out of your house and into the attic where it is released through vents. They offer both high energy efficiency and low operating costs.
Planting deciduous trees (which grow leaves in spring and shed them in the fall) are ideal as they can provide shade for your home. In Oklahoma, the Shumard Oak, Chinese Pistache and Ginko are all smart choices for potential shade in urban areas. Climbing vines like ivy also act as solid insulators, but homeowners should be mindful of their placement.
Summers in Oklahoma can be brutal, but you can ensure that you stay cool and keep the utility bills lower by trying a few of these tips. While keeping the A/C completely off in August might not be an option for most, try keeping the HVAC thermostat up a little higher – and keeping the shades closed. You’ll be surprised at what a little proactive shading can do!