Ways to Keep Your House Cool in the Philly Heat
In the heat of a Philly summer, turning on the air conditioning isn’t your only option. Use blinds, curtains, and fans to bring the temperature down or at least make things a bit more comfortable indoors.
In Philadelphia in the summer, you can count on a few things. There will be ice cream trucks roving the streets, people will be flocking to festivals and baseball games, and it will be hot and humid. While switching on the central air conditioning or even just a window unit when the temperatures climb can be unavoidable in the city, there are ways to keep your house cool that don’t involve running the A/C or that allow you to turn it down so that it’s not working as hard.
Keep Out the Sun
The sun can be enemy number one when it comes to ways to keep your house cool. Its bright rays contribute to solar heat gain, increasing the temperature in your house simply by shining through your windows. Fortunately, keeping the sun’s light and heat out of your Philadelphia home is a relatively simple task. Close the blinds or draw the curtains during the hours of the day when the sun is pointing at the windows. For example, sunlight tends to be brightest through eastern and northern windows in the morning and more intense through western or southern windows later in the day. Pick drapes or curtains that have a light colored lining, so that the sunlight is reflected back outdoors.
If your home faces south or west, you might also consider installing an awning over the exterior windows. There’s a reason why so many rowhomes in Philadelphia have those fiberglass awnings. They might not be much to look at, but according to the US Department of Energy, they can reduce solar heat gain by up to 77 percent on west facing windows. While fiberglass awnings might be ubiquitous in South Philly, newer versions are retractable, so you don’t have to look at them all year around if you don’t want to.
Get Friendly with Fans
Fans can be your best friends in the middle of summer, as long as you know how to use them. You’ll only get a cooling benefit from a fan if you’re in the same area as it, so make sure you’re in the same room, if not sitting right next to, or under, an operating fan. One of the best ways to get the most out of a fan is to place it in a window, and turn it on at night. The fan will bring the cooler night air into your home, helping to reduce the temperature inside.
Beat the Heat
Using certain appliances such as your oven, clothes dryer, and even a desktop computer, in the middle of a hot summer day can raise the temperature indoors considerably. To keep things cool, save the baking for a relatively mild day and wait until evening to dry any clothing. If you have an outdoor area and it’s not too humid out, you can hang your clothing up to dry instead.
Plant a Tree
A tree can naturally provide shade for your home, blocking the heat of the sun in summer. In Philly, you’re able to get a free tree for either the street in front of your home or for your yard, if you have one. Yard trees are only available a few times a year, but you can request a street tree at any time.
In the heat of summer, even a few degrees can make a big difference. Limit the devices that generate heat in your home and find ways to keep the sun out and you’ll be able to get through the season without running your A/C ragged.
Image Source: Flickr/Bryan Kemp