The forecast calls for hot weather today and Sunday. A cheap way to cool down your home is to take advantage of the night air, said University of Maine Extension educator Donna Coffin.

Even during heat waves, the night air in Maine is usually cool. Use window fans to bring in the night air, Coffin said.
In all rooms, including those without fans, open the windows during the night to get that cool air in, Coffin said. “In the morning, close the windows to try to retain as much cool air as possible.”

If you have drapes, close them to prevent the sun’s heat from warming the room.

Unlike air conditioners, fans don’t cool, but they can bring in cool air. It’s the air moving across our skin that helps cool us, Coffin said. That means there’s no benefit to leaving a fan running if you’re not in the room.

In the kitchen, avoid using the oven. Instead, use a grill, microwave or toaster oven. If you need to cook, use the smallest burners when putting pots on to boil, Coffin said. “Use the range hood to vent the hot air.”

Also, use the dishwasher or washer and dryer in the cooler evening hours.

For long-term cooling solutions, plant leaf-bearing trees on the southwest side of your home where the sun is hottest in the afternoon. The trees will provide shade and keep the home cooler in the summer; after shedding leaves in the fall, they won’t block the sun in winter.

Other tips from Efficiency Maine:

• Raise the air conditioning thermostat. You’ll save 3 percent for every degree you raise it.

•  Don’t let the air conditioner bake in the sun. Air conditioners work best when kept out of direct sunlight. Install them near shade trees or on the north side of the house.

• Seal gaps along the sides of your air conditioner.

• Clean air conditioner filters regularly, keeping the front and back unobstructed. That helps them run more efficiently.

•  Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They not only use less energy, they produce less heat than standard bulbs.

• When buying a room air conditioner, look for the Energy Star. It means the unit exceeds minimum federal standards on energy efficiency by 10 percent or more.


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