How to Keep Your Home Cool When It’s Hot Outside

How to Keep Your Home Cool When It’s Hot Outside
It’s about keeping humidity at bay. (Dreamstime/TNS)
Tribune News Service
By Nancy Ngo From Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

A recently released summer outlook predicts temps will be higher than average.

It’s going to be a hot summer.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just released its latest outlook predicting that temperatures will be higher than average this summer in most of the country.

When it comes to keeping your home cool, it’s about keeping humidity at bay. Heating and cooling experts offer these tips for when a hot spell rolls through town:

Clean Seasonal Debris

This time of the year, cottonwood fluff and grass clippings can created blockages on central air conditioning units. “It suffocates your unit and it can’t function properly,” said Jon Ryan, CEO of Genz-Ryan, a Burnsville-based heating and cooling company.

To clean, run a garden hose from inside the system. But be careful that the water pressure isn’t pushing more debris into the system.

“You want to make sure you’re not spraying directly on the unit because there are electronics in it, so make sure you’re directly spraying that heat exchanger,” Ryan said. “Only spray that or hire a professional as part of your tune-up.”

Tim Adams, service manager at Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, said another option is to spray the exterior of the unit one coil section at a time with low water pressure.

“You don’t want to spray directly down on it. Spray on the sides in a sweeping motion from left to right and work your way down,” he said.

Keep the Air On

Sure, instinct might be to turn off the air conditioner and crank open windows while away, but not during a heat wave.
“People think ‘If I’ve got a nice cross breeze it will keep the house cool.’ It’s not about temperature, it’s about humidity. Opening a window is one of the worst things that you can do because you’re bringing in humidity,” Ryan said. “If you want to change the temperature when you’re gone, then fine. But don’t [change it] more than 3 to 5 degrees.”

Clean Air Filter Regularly

A dirty air filter will reduce airflow, making your system run harder and your house cool less efficiently.
“The good rule of thumb is every time you pay your mortgage or credit card bill, change your air filter,” Ryan said, adding that some types of air filters can last longer. “But 99% of the time the ones people have in their homes require them to be changed once a month, 12 months out of the year.”

Schedule a Yearly Tune-Up

Being proactive by giving your cooling system a tune-up at the beginning of the season is key. Like a car, neglecting it can cause more damage in the future.
“The problem is if you don’t fix something, it will fail at an inopportune time,” Ryan said. “If it’s failing and not working optimally, it will stress out other components of your systems. If it runs optimally it will use less energy, which will cost you less and it will last longer.”

Staying Cool Without Air Conditioning

Not everyone has an air conditioner. During a heat wave, try to head to a place that has air conditioning. If that’s not possible, hang out in the basement, which will provide the coldest air in your house.

Use fans and, if there’s a breeze, open the windows.

“Cook outside as much as you can and look to grill or make salads,” said Ryan. “Any excess heat that you add to your house is going to make you feel more uncomfortable.”

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