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Scorching summer in Oregon: How to heatwave proof your house

With the recent record-breaking heatwave in Oregon and other Pacific Northwest states, you might be wondering if a new air conditioner can provide you quick relief. While this is a good option, you have to keep in mind that there are other ways to create a more comfortable home environment without relying on this energy-hogging appliance. 

 

Here, we list some simple hacks to heatwave proof your house. 

 

  1. Cook wisely. 

 

Did you know that baking your favorite cookie recipe can quickly spike up your home’s temperature by up to 10 degrees? If you don’t want to jack up your cooling cost or sweat like crazy, follow these simple tips: 

 

  • Try to bake and cook during cooler hours. 
  • Cook outdoors on your grill. 
  • Cover pots to minimize humidity in your kitchen. 
  • When cooking indoors, use pressure cookers and slow cookers if possible. 
  • Turn on your exhaust fan to take the hot air out of your home. 

 

  1. Seal air leaks. 

 

Air leaks generally occur around windows, doors, kitchen and bath vents, ductwork, plumbing, and conduits. During winter, they force your heating system to work harder than usual, resulting in high electricity bills. And in summer, they let in the hot, humid air that makes the home environment uncomfortable. 

 

You can seal air leaks using weather stripping, which comes in many forms: foam tape, V strip (or tension seal), felt, silicone, tubular rubber, vinyl, and door sweeps. 

 

Sealing air leaks not just ensures a comfortable indoor temperature but also huge savings, slashing up to 10% off your electricity bill. 

 

  1. Take advantage of cool outdoor temperatures at night. 

 

At night when the temperature is a lot cooler, open your windows to let in cool air. And as soon as the sun comes up and heats the environment, keep all the windows and doors closed. 

 

  1. Close blinds and curtains. 

 

Thick curtains are particularly effective in blocking the heat, although if you want a significant effect, you may also consider installing solar blinds, window films, or solar screens, which can reduce heat gain by 45-70%. 

 

Make sure that you install blinds or solar films on your south-facing windows to maintain a comfortable temperature. 

 

  1. Use smart landscaping. 

 

Planting shrubs and vines around your house can keep its wall cool, while trees can shade its roof during the scorching summer months. 

 

The general rule of thumb is to plant small trees or tall shrubs along the west side of your home to deflect late afternoon sun and install vertical trellis (where flowering vines can grow) on the south side. A pergola is also an excellent addition to your house if you want a versatile structure that gives shades. 

 

  1. Use fans correctly. 

 

First things first–fans cool people, not rooms, so you may want to turn them off when you’re away. 

 

In addition, fans work well with the air conditioning system because they can make the room 4-6 degrees cooler, which means that your AC doesn’t have to be on full blast to give you a comfortable temperature. Plus, they have a dehumidifying effect by moving around the hotter, drier air. 

 

  1. Choose LED lights. 

 

If you think that turning on the lights can heat your room is just another old wives’ tale, think again. A standard incandescent bulb can raise the temperature in a small room by around 3 degrees. And we’re just talking about a single light source. 

 

Meanwhile, LED bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent lights, plus they produce significantly less heat than other types of lighting fixtures. 

 

Incandescent bulbs are so inefficient that 98% of their electricity is converted into heat, while only 2% is converted into light. 

 

  1. Use a smart thermostat.

 

A smart thermostat comes with a mobile app that allows you to adjust your temperature based on weather conditions, daily schedules, and heating and cooling needs. It can also turn off your HVAC system automatically when you leave the house.

 

Most smart thermostats cost $30-$50, a worthwhile investment that can slash up to 20% off your cooling cost. 

 

  1. Insulate your attic. 

 

Did you know that a poorly insulated attic can drive up your heating and cooling cost by up to 40% because your HVAC system needs to be on full blast to give you a comfortable home environment? 

 

A good rule of thumb is to use attic insulation that is at least R-22, or in layman’s terms, not thinner than 7 inches when fiberglass or rock wool is used. 

 

Also, without proper insulation in the attic floor, the rooms in the upper levels will be too cold during winter and too hot during summer. 

 

(Note: Insulation is not a simple DIY project you can do on the weekend. Instead, it is better to hire a professional insulation contractor for this project.)

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