Keeping a cool house on hot days

Question: What are some active and passive ways to keep your house cool in the summer?

As temperatures rise during the summer months, keeping cool becomes a priority. Air conditioning is ideal, but not all homes have it. When my former house was being building in the late 80’s, we added central air with multiple zones and the builder thought we were crazy. Crazy or not, it is a necessity in my life and well worth the investment. In my new house, which is 3 levels with one zone, I’m getting adjusted and finding ways to cool my house. Here a few of my tips followed by shared tips from readers.

  • Close window treatments and blinds from full sun. I have river views and kept the blinds up all winter. The top floor bedrooms get warm with full sun. Closing the blinds keep it cooler.
  • Ceiling fans. Admittedly, I was never a fan (see what I did there?) but the newer models come with a remote and fan speed control. Even on the low setting, my room stays cool at night without feeling like your sleeping in a wind tunnel.
  • Deck awning installed at the proper height. I replaced the old awning, which was hung to high, with a new one. It’s opened in the morning and instantly cools off the living area which gets full sun. It comes with a wind detector that closes automatically which has come in handy. Well worth the extra money.
  • Have your air conditioner serviced, balanced and change filters.
  • Stay hydrated. We really don’t drink enough water. It really makes a difference.
Keeping the house cool during the summer with or without air conditioning by keeping shades down and other cost effective ideas. Kids running in the backyard of a nice house.
Keeping the house cool during the summer with or without air conditioning by keeping shades down and other cost effective ideas.


Shared tips:

“We don’t have air conditioning. If we strategically open the windows at night and close during the hottest parts of the day, feels like we have A/C!” – Susan Brinson


“I keep the shades down. When I had A/C, I used to turn it on and off. I was told to just set it and forget it. Even though I have a programmable thermostat, once I turn on the unit, it is set for 73, permanent hold, and it cycles on and off as needed. When it’s cooler out, I open the windows but never turn off the central unit. It only comes on when the temp rises. It keeps humidity down.” – Suzanne Sweeney


“LED bulbs don’t get as hot as incandescent bulbs” – James Mandato


“When the temperature rises above 80 degrees with humidity, all windows get closed with shades down during most of the day. Fans help circulate the cool air. We also use the outside grill and crock pot to keep kitchen cool. Of course, making reservations is even better!” – Carmela Decker


An obvious choice for sun protection and climate control is finding the right window treatment for each room. Barbara Grattan of Home Sweet Home Designs in Walden, a Window Specialist, recommends finding the right coverage for your home depending on style and needs. There are so many options that will be covered in the next column.