I'm thrilled to report that we've been able to keep the inside of our house at a relatively comfortable temperature during the recent May heat wave.
A few weeks ago, I wrote Keepin' It Cool In the Summertime and listed my strategies to get a handle on the summer temp inside our house. In the past, summertime has made our living room and kitchen almost unbearable. Outside temperatures over 80 degrees quickly turn the inside into what feels like an oven.
Our house is not naturally cool. It seems the builders put absolutely no thought into where the windows were placed in relation to the sun. The house was built in 1965, so I'm not sure they were considering things like that then. The knowledge skipped a few generations, since I believe older homes were designed with this in mind. One of the coolest houses I've ever been in during the summer was my grandparents old stone farmhouse. They never had AC, but it was as cool as a cucumber in the summertime!
Here's what I've done that's made a difference:
1. Hung insulated curtains on our over-sized, east-facing picture window. This is the source of a lot of interior heat and it had to be stopped. It would be best if I could block the sun before it gets in the window, but for now, insulated curtains are a giant improvement.
2. Closed east and south facing windows early in the day and west facing windows late in the day. I keep the north facing windows, which are on the shady side of the house, open. Any window that gets direct sunlight is closed and the curtains or blinds are drawn.
3. As soon as the outdoor temperature cools, I open the windows and put fans in some of them to draw the cooler air inside. Luckily, the nights have been in the 60s, so the house is cooling down at night.
4. Avoided cooking, especially oven use. The stove and oven really heat the kitchen, so I'm doing as little as possible. On the hottest day last week, we bought subs for dinner. Tonight, which is the hottest day this week (high of 88), we're having hummus, pita bread and cucumber slices. This is going to be hard to maintain for the whole summer, but I'm hoping to have a lot of salads and utilize our grill more than we have in the past.
5. Keep the lights off as much as possible. This has been a bit of a challenge since the boys like to turn the lights on wherever they go in the house. It's not dark in here during the day with the curtains closed, but it is dim. Still, it's light enough that we don't need any extra lighting. I'm turning lights off behind them constantly.
6. Keep the fans going. Moving air feels cooler, even if the temperature is the same. The ceiling fan is constantly spinning and the fan in the kitchen is on almost all the time. We have a few more that we turn on in the late afternoon when the heat is at its peak.
So far, so good. I want to buy insulated curtains for the rest of our windows, but that will take time. I'll have to do that bit by bit over the next year. And, we still need to buy screen doors. But, I'm happy (and my family is happy) that it's bearable in here! When we walk into the house from outside, it feels cool. That was my goal!