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15 Ways to Keep Your House Cool in California

If you live in sunny southern California or anywhere else that has summers fit to melt the unwary, you need to have a smart strategy to keep your house cool that goes beyond air conditioning. Try out the following tips that will save you money on your energy bill and help keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

Seal Up the House

There are a lot of cheap ways to keep your house cool. You want to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. Do the following:

  • Use caulking and weatherstripping. Even the small amount of air that wiggles through little gaps affects a home’s climate.
  • During the hottest time of the day, keep windows and doors closed and the curtains shut.
  • Install white window coverings; they will reflect light. Dark colors tend to absorb light, thus absorbing heat. Of course, if white doesn’t fit your color scheme, you can buy energy-saving drapes with a white lining that faces the outside. Choose whatever color you like for the interior side of the drapes.
  • Mini-blinds are another good choice for your windows. Care2.com says that these “can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent.”
  • Do you have a fireplace? Make sure the damper is tightly closed.
  • If your attic doesn’t have insulation, make that the next project on your home improvement to-do list.

Use Fans

Ceiling Fan

Image via Flickr by Steve Johnson

Yes, fans might take up a little space and make a little noise, but they are a key way to help you battle the heat. Homes in San Juan Capistrano and other warm areas in southern California are built to have air conditioning, but even if you choose to use the air conditioning, it may take a while for it to cool down your whole house. If you have a big home, strategically placed fans can speed the cooling process.

One article succinctly states, “moving air is cooler air.” A breeze that moves at just one mph can make you feel up to four degrees cooler. Ceiling fans are a great tool for moving air, and they don’t take up floor space. Set your ceiling fans to blow air down (most ceiling fans have another setting for winter that blows air upward).

Pay Attention to Your Appliances

The more energy your home uses, the hotter it is likely to become. A few simple measures can cut down on the amount of heat generated by your gadgets and appliances.

  • Try to avoid using your oven. If you must use it, use it during the cooler times of day.
  • Instead of using the drying cycle on your dishwasher, air-dry your dishes.
  • Wash and dry only full loads of laundry. Using hot water to wash and hot air to dry means a higher temperature in your home.
  • Unplug electronics when they are not in use. You can also plug them into a power strip that you can easily turn off.
  • If you have incandescent light bulbs in your home, replace them with fluorescent or LED bulbs, both of which give you illumination at a lower temperature. According to one source, incandescent bulbs burn at 215 degrees, while LEDs burn at only 109 degrees. As an added bonus, efficient light bulbs will save you money on your energy bill year round.

Spruce up Your Outdoors

As discussed above, there are plenty of things you can do inside your home to keep it cooler. There are also some things that you can do outside to shield your home from heat.

  • Do some landscaping. Plant shade trees near windows on the south and west sides of your home.
  • Rocks and asphalt absorb heat, so try to avoid placing these too close to the house.
  • It’s unlikely that you are willing or able to move your driveway so you can plant a tree or two, but there is something else you can do to shade your windows. Install awnings to stave off the worst of the sun’s heat.

Your home is your refuge, and it should stay comfortable throughout the year, no matter how hot the weather gets. The above tips are fairly simple and will help you and your family stay cool in a hot climate.

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