Monday, July 15, 2013

7 Ways to Keep Your Home Cooler in Summer!

"We're havin' a heat wave" in the lower mainland of BC presently, and this can make our homes uncomfortably hot especially at night when we are trying to sleep. Of course installing central air conditioning is one way to fix the problem, but what about considering more environmentally friendly and economical ways to keep the temperature lower in your home? In this article we will provide you with a seven simple ideas you may want to consider:

1. If the sun shines right into your windows, keep the coverings drawn during the day. Your furniture and carpets actually absorb the sun when it shines through non-coated clear windows during the day.  Heat cannot escape and gets trapped in the room. This is why a room can get really warm, even on a cold, sunny day. You may even want to consider dark, light blocking curtains if you have west facing windows that let a lot of sun in during the day.

2. Install a heat pump to your furnace. According to the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency, adding a heat pump to your existing heating system can save you between 25 and 65 percent on your heating and cooling costs, depending on what type of heat pump you American Standard Heat Pumpselect. In the summer, heat pumps move hot air from inside your home to the outdoors. In the winter, the process is reversed, using earth-heated air to help heat your home.
FortisBC offers two rebate or loan programs to help with the cost of a heat pump:
Ground source heat pump rebate: Rebate is calculated at $0.05 per kWh in savings, with an average rebate on a 4000 sq. ft. home being approximately $900. You can also apply for a loan of up to $5000 OAC financed over 10 years at 4.9%.
Air source heat pump rebate or loan: Air source heat pump: $200 per ton (or per 12,000 BTU’s) about $600 for an average home; ductless heat pump: $300 per ton (or per 12,000 BTU’s) about $450 for an average home.

3. Add a summer switch to your furnace. The air in a closed up house during the summer can get pretty stale. Adding a summer switch to the circulating fan on your furnace will keep the air moving throughout the house, and will filter the air without heating it to improve the quality of your indoor air.  Basements are typically cooler than the rest of the home, so circulating the air in your home will “mix” the warmer upstairs air with the cooler air from below.  

4. Insulate and air seal the attic, home, and crawlspace. Adding insulation to your attic can keep the hot air that collects up there in the summer from entering your living space. Conversely, during the winter months, attic insulation will keep the warm air in your living attic insulationspace where it belongs.  Insulation in the walls and crawlspace will also help keep the heat out in the summer months, and keep the cold out during winter.  Be sure to air seal the home to reap the greatest benefit from the new insulation.  Heat always “fights” to move toward cold, so any open air pathways or lack of thermal resistance (insulation), will allow the outside air to move inside more quickly.  If you have central air conditioning, air sealing and adding insulation will reduce the amount of electricity required to cool the home, because they will keep the cooled air inside the home longer than if you had poor air-sealing and inadequate insulation.
Check out the rebates available through the Live Smart BC program to help cover the cost of insulation
 and air sealing.  

5. Have Whirlybirds installed. Whirlybirds will remove the hot air from your ceiling making your home cooler and more comfortable.
For the best result, at least two Whirlybirds should be installed in a high up position on your roof. This should be combined with the installation of eave vents on either side of your home to allow cool air intake. Installing one on its own will not make enough difference, as two work best together to bring in cool air while expelling hot air.
They will save you money by helping to reduce your air conditioning costs and at the same time making them very environmentally friendly. In Winter, Whirlybirds help to remove moist, damp air that can accumulate in your ceiling during the cold and wet months, keeping it drier and lessening the chance of mold occurring in your home.

6. Close your windows during the day, and open them at night. An open window does not always mean a cool breeze! Heat actually moves toward cold, so if it is hotter outside than it is inside your home, opening windows will actually have a reverse effect and draw the outdoor heat into your home.  Conversely, opening windows at night will allow your home to ‘lose’ heat to the outdoors because the outside air is cooler than the inside air.  Leaving your windows open at night means that when you wake up in the morning and close all your windows, your home will be naturally cooler – without the use of an air conditioner.

7.  Keep ventilation fans running all night.  Every bit of air your fans exhausts from your home must be replaced by incoming air.  At night, the outdoor air is cooler than the air inside your home, so the air that is drawn in to replace the exhausted air is cooler.  Sometimes a lack of wind outside will mean that air is not being exchanged between your home and the outdoors.  Using ventilation fans (the one in your bathroom and the one over your stove) that are exhausted directly to the outdoors will create air exchange regardless of environmental factors.

House Smart Home Improvements are experienced professionals with an  A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau. When it’s time to replace your windows, doors or furnaces and heat pumps, or to install  insulation, and other energy-efficient home upgrades,  give us a call. 604-585-2020
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