STILLWATER, Okla. – Although Oklahoma has experienced some warm weather this summer, it is definitely better, at least so far, than the heat wave of 2011.
In an effort to beat the heat, many of our state’s residents seek solace inside their air-conditioned homes. Unfortunately, there are those who may not have air conditioning or choose, for whatever reason, not to use it.
Electricity bills can run high when the outside temperature reaches near the top of the thermometer. However, some people, especially those on limited incomes, may opt to turn off the air conditioning or run it very little in an effort to save money.
Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said there are some free and low-cost things people can do to help beat the heat for the remainder of the summer.
“One thing that can help keep your home cooler is to keep the heat from building up in the first place. Ceiling fans can make a big difference during the heat of the summer,” Peek said. “And fortunately it doesn’t take much electricity to run them. Be sure to turn fans off when you leave. Fans cool people, not rooms. They work by circulating air, making you feel cooler by a wind chill effect.”
Floor or counter model oscillating fans also are a great investment. Humidity makes a room feel hotter, so do laundry or take showers either early or late in the day. Use vents in your kitchen and bathrooms and consider purchasing a dehumidifier if you live in a humid area.
Peek also suggests trying to remove heat sources from the home. Think about the variety of things in your house and the heat they produce. It’s easy to understand the oven generates a lot of heat, but don’t overlook the other things that generate heat as well.
Changing incandescent bulbs for cooler fluorescent bulbs will reduce heat gain and save energy, too. Be sure to turn off lights when not in use. Electronic equipment in your home can produce a fair amount of heat. Keep as many of these devices on a power strip and you can quickly shut down the power when you leave your home each day.
“Keep in mind that your appliances generate heat. If you aren’t home during the day, make sure these appliances are turned off,” she said. “If you spend a good portion of the day at home, use heat-generating appliances such as the oven, stove or clothes dryer only during the coolest part of the day.”
Reflecting or blocking sunlight is another way in which people can help keep their homes cooler during the summer months.
“Even though most people enjoy a lot of natural light in their homes, keeping out as much sunlight as possible during long summer days is an easy way to keep your home cooler,” she said. “Keep your drapes or blinds closed to block out the sun’s rays, especially on the southern and western sides of your home. Bamboo shades also work well on a southern- or western-facing porch to help provide some shade.”
Peek also suggests using white or light colored window treatments to deflect light, or try applying reflective film to windows to help cut down on heat gain. There are products available that will let light in but keep heat out.
“We’re still looking at a couple of months with temperatures in the upper 90s. Implementing some of these tips may help you ‘keep your cool’ this summer,” she said.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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