Keeping Cool in Your Home during the Summer Months

First of all I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. Now that's out of the way and June is here, we're really heading into summer and the warmest months of the year.

I therefore felt it was timely to offer a few tips about keeping your home cool this summer. This is arguably even more important if your home is for sale and you're looking to create a cool, welcoming atmosphere when prospective buyers visit the property.

It almost goes without saying that your air conditioning system should be getting its annual service immediately, if this has not already been done. While there naturally may be some cost associated with making sure this is running efficiently, what I want to do today is to mainly focus on things you can do to stay cool that cost nothing, or next to it.

Ensure that the outdoor cooling unit has good airflow around it. This is especially important if you have plants, trees and shrubs nearby, that may need pruning. Check that the manufacturer's recommended air spaces on all sides of the unit and above it are being adhered to.

Although they should be changed regularly throughout the year, now is an ideal moment to replace any out of date air filters. A cheap fix that will more than pay for itself in terms of aiding the energy efficiency of your cooling system.

Ceiling fans are a great way of circulating cool air, but have you reversed the air direction from the winter setting, so that fans will draw up cool air? Some rooms, such as kid's bedrooms with bunk or loft style beds, aren't suited to ceiling fans, but you can buy inexpensive high speed wall mounted fans as an effective alternative.

And when it comes to getting that important circulation going, closed internal doors can be very counter productive to this process. So make sure they are all open, whenever this is practical.

For windows and external doors, however, you need to adopt exactly the opposite policy, during the daytime at least, ensuring they are tightly closed and properly sealed to avoid expensive air leakage. When it cools in the evening, however, windows are a great way of promoting a cool air flow through the home, if the temperatures are comfortable enough for your air con to be switched off.

The key focus inside the home should be to reduce what's called solar gain during the hours of daylight. Essentially this is heat buildup caused by the sun. A great way of deflecting this is to keep curtains and blinds closed. Energy saving window films are a very low cost enhancement, available from hardware stores, and they are quite simply to install. They use a reflective layer to keep the sun's heat away from your rooms. It's claimed they can reduce solar heat by 70% and UV rays by 95%.

Mobile fans are invaluable, as they can be situated in areas where cool air is most needed. Window fans are another option that can be used in a network to create a useful flow of cool air through the home.

Another perhaps not very obvious thing to remember is that using appliances in the daytime can add to the heat mass in your home. Therefore try to use the washing machine and dishwasher at night. Ovens act like a massive convection heater and so the more you eat salads, eat out or barbecue in the yard, the less warm your kitchen area is likely to be.

There's also a tendency to leave computers on all the time, so they're immediately ready for use, but have you ever noticed that most PC's blow out a constant stream of hot air, as fans cool sensitive components. Therefore if they're not being used, simply turn them off and switch on when they are needed.

A cool shower, or a swim in your pool if you're lucky enough to have one, are also great ways of cooling down. However, after warm showers or baths, it's very important to leave bathroom exhaust fans on for an extended period, perhaps up to 30 minutes. This has the effect of extracting hot and humid air out of the building.

I hope at least some of these tips are useful to you. As ever, don't hesitate to contact me for details of top local home maintenance professionals, or to answer any questions or concerns you may have related to real estate.

Dominic Nicoli