Keep It Cool: How to Beat the Heat at Home This Summer

Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, that means hot and humid weather. While some enjoy soaking up the sunshine, high temperatures can make it unbearable to be home. Fortunately, there are many clever ways to keep your home cool even during a heat wave. With a little preparation and some simple tricks, you can beat the heat this summer and stay comfortable indoors.

Use Window Treatments Strategically

One of the easiest ways to keep the heat out is to take advantage of window treatments. Here are some smart options:

Close Blinds and Curtains

Shutting blinds and curtains during the hottest part of the day is an effective way to block direct sunlight from heating up your rooms. Opt for blackout curtains in rooms that get a lot of sun exposure for maximum heat protection.

Install Exterior Solar Screens

Solar window screens are mesh screens that are installed outside on your windows. They shade your home from intense sun rays while still allowing air flow. These screens can reduce indoor heat gain by up to 80%.

Use Outdoor Awnings

Adding awnings above windows and patio doors creates shade that helps keep your rooms cooler. Retractable awnings allow you to control when you want the shade.

Install Window Films

Solar window films are thin plastic films that you install directly on your glass windows. They help block UV rays while reducing heat gain. High-quality solar window films can lower indoor temperatures by up to 30%.

Optimize Air Flow

Allowing air circulation throughout your home will prevent hot air from becoming trapped inside. Here are tips for maximizing airflow:

Open Windows Strategically

When outdoor temperatures start dropping in the evening, open windows to let in cooling breezes. Make sure to close them during the day to keep hot air out. Avoid opening windows on the sunny side of your home during peak heat.

Use Exhaust Fans

Turn on bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to pull hot air out and draw in cooler air from open windows. Running these fans for just 15 minutes can refresh a room.

Adjust Ceiling Fan Settings

Make sure your ceiling fans are set to spin clockwise to push air downwards during summer. The breeze from a fan can make a room feel several degrees cooler.

Install Attic Fans

Attic fans vent hot air that becomes trapped in your attic to the outside. This allows cooler air to circulate from the lower floors of your home into the attic.

Let Your Attic Breathe

Make sure your attic has proper ventilation. This allows accumulated hot air to escape and be replaced by cooler outdoor air.

Regulate Humidity Levels

High humidity makes the air feel hotter than it really is. Decreasing humidity can have a big impact on your comfort level. Try these tips:

Run a Dehumidifier

Portable or whole-home dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air. This helps indoor temperatures feel cooler. Aim to keep humidity below 50%.

Use Ventilation Fans

Turn on exhaust fans regularly in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room to vent out water vapor. Letting them run for about 20 minutes after you shower or cook will remove lingering moisture.

Increase Air Circulation

Stagnant air allows humidity to build up. Use fans or open windows regularly to keep air moving throughout your home.

Check for Leaks

Inspect windows, doors, attic openings and crawl spaces for air leaks that allow humid outdoor air to creep into your home. Seal any leaks with caulk or weatherstripping.

Upgrade Insulation

Proper insulation prevents cooled air from escaping and hot outdoor air from seeping into your home. Ensure insulation levels meet recommendations.

Use the Power of Plants

Certain houseplants can help reduce temperatures and control humidity naturally:

Snake Plants

Snake plants absorb moisture from the air through their leaves at night. Place them in humid areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms.


Ferns thrive in humidity, making them excellent natural humidifiers. Their large green leaves also provide cooling through evapotranspiration.


Orchids prefer humid conditions and release moisture into the surrounding air. Varieties like moth orchids do well indoors.

Aloe Vera

In addition to purifying indoor air, aloe vera plants love high temperatures and can survive with minimal watering in summer.


Succulents such as agave and jade plants require very little watering, so they won’t raise humidity levels inside. Their thick leaves also stay cool.

Upgrade Your Home

Some upgrades to your home’s structure and systems can provide long-term heat relief:

Install Ceiling Insulation

Adding extra insulation to your attic floor helps keep heat from radiating down into living spaces. Use insulation with an R-value of at least R-30.

Paint Roofs White

White roof coatings are highly reflective, allowing up to 80% of sunlight to bounce off your roof instead of heating it up. This can lower roof temperature by over 50°F.

Replace Windows

Old single-pane windows have little insulating value. Upgrading to double- or triple-pane windows with low-emissivity coatings can greatly reduce heat transfer into your home.

Seal Air Leaks

Cracks and gaps around windows, doors, pipes, vents, and wiring let hot air sneak in. Caulking and weatherstripping these areas helps block heat entry.

Plant Exterior Shrubs

Shrubs, bushes and trees planted around your home provide shade that lowers exterior wall and window temperatures by up to 20°F. Opt for low-maintenance native plants.

Consider Radiant Barriers

Radiant barriers like reflective roof coatings prevent heat radiation from entering attic spaces. This can lower cooling costs by 10% or more.

Adjust Your Thermostat Strategically

Get the most out of your air conditioner by using these thermostat settings during hot weather:

Set to 78°F – 80°F

Don’t overcool your home. Keeping the thermostat set to 78°F or higher will suffice for comfort and save on energy costs.

Use Smart or Programmable Thermostats

Take advantage of smart technology to adjust temperature based on time of day and room occupancy. This prevents overcooling empty rooms.

Set Fan to Auto

Leaving the fan on “auto” instead of “on” will allow it to only run with the AC compressor and better control humidity.

Change Filter Monthly

A clean filter allows airflow needed for efficient cooling. Mark your calendar to change filters on schedule.

Maintain Proper Refrigerant Levels

Have an HVAC technician check that refrigerant levels are adequate for peak performance. Low refrigerant hampers cooling capabilities.

Close Vents in Unused Rooms

Reduce the temperature only in rooms you are occupying so your AC isn’t trying to cool the whole house at once.

Utilize Shading Solutions

Here are creative ways to shade your home from sun exposure:

Install Patio Umbrellas

Use large outdoor umbrellas to create shady spots on patios and decks. Look for umbrellas with built-in solar-powered fans for added comfort.

Set Up Shade Sails

Anchor triangular fabric shade sails on posts or exterior walls to block direct sunlight overhead while still allowing breezes to flow underneath.

Build a Porch or Pergola

Covered porches and pergolas provide protective shade while enhancing outdoor living spaces. Vining plants over structures create peaceful green ceilings.

Use Patio Shade Screens

Install exterior roller shades that extend from under roof eaves to shade patios and decks. These screens can reduce sunlight by up to 90%.

Plant Trees Strategically

Plant trees like maples, oaks and sycamores around the east and west sides of your home to naturally shade walls and windows during peak sun exposure times.

Install Exterior Shutters

Shutters provide shade and allow air circulation. Opt for shutters with adjustable louvers that allow you to control light and breeze.

Take Advantage of Cooling Technologies

Innovative cooling systems can be a smart addition for keeping your home comfortable:

Use a Whole House Fan

Whole house fans pull in cool night air and flush out built-up hot air. Run at night with windows open, then close up in the morning.

Install a Cool Roof

Cool roofs are made of reflective material that blocks nearly all sunlight from heating up your attic and living space.

Consider Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative coolers use less energy to cool outdoor air by passing it through water-soaked pads. They work best in dry climates.

Look Into Geothermal Systems

Geothermal HVAC systems leverage the Earth’s stable underground temperatures to heat and cool your home. Although pricey to install, they offer big savings.

Try a Hybrid Heat Pump

Hybrid heat pumps work efficiently in both hot and cold weather. Their built-in air conditioners provide effective summer cooling.

Make Lifestyle Adjustments

Simple changes in your daily habits can also help you stay cool:

Take Cool Showers

Opt for cool showers instead of hot to lower your body temperature. Or have a hot shower first, then briefly switch water to cold before getting out.

Limit Oven Use

Major appliances like ovens that generate a lot of indoor heat should be used sparingly during heat waves. Opt for no-cook meals or use an outdoor grill.

Close Unused Rooms

Shutting vents and closing doors to unused rooms will prevent you from trying to cool more space than necessary.

Avoid Laundry and Dishwashing

Only run heat-generating appliances like dishwashers and clothes dryers at night when temperatures drop. Allow dishes to air dry.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Staying hydrated with water and drinks with electrolytes will prevent dangerous overheating and allow you to perspire to cool down.

Wear Light, Loose Clothing

Dress in lightweight, light-colored fabrics. They absorb less heat from sunlight and allow ventilation to keep you cooler.

Turn Off Unneeded Lights

Artificial lighting generates heat. Only use the lights you need, and switch to energy-efficient LED bulbs to reduce energy consumption.

Cook Smart

Avoid firing up the oven on hot days. Grill outdoors, use small appliances, or cook meals that don’t require heat whenever possible.

Create a Cool Zone

On extremely hot days, designating one room as a cool zone can provide temporary relief:

Draw Blinds and Curtains

Pull window treatments closed to block sunlight in this room. Shut exterior doors and close vents to keep cool air trapped inside.

Use a Window AC Unit

Window air conditioners can efficiently cool small spaces of up to 700 square feet. Close the door and seal gaps underneath with towels.

Add a Fan or Two

Place oscillating tower fans or ceiling fans on the highest setting to maximize air movement.

Avoid Heat-Generating Activities

Don’t cook, shower, or use hot appliances in this room so their heat doesn’t negate the cool zone.

Chill Out With an Ice Fan

Sit in front of a fan blowing over a bowl of ice for a quick chill. Just make sure the fan is far enough from the ice to not get wet.

Offer Cool Drinks

Keep a cooler stocked with ice water, juice boxes, and popsicles so you can stay refreshed.

Pick the Most Insulated Room

An interior room or one with plenty of insulation will retain cooled air most effectively to become an oasis of comfort.

Keep It Cool: How to Beat the Heat at Home This Summer – FAQ

1. Which window treatments work best for cooling?

Reflective cellular shades and blackout curtains are most effective at blocking sunlight and reducing heat gain. Exterior solar screens can block up to 80% of heat while still allowing air flow.

2. Should I close my windows during hot days?

Yes, you should keep windows closed on the sunny side of your home during peak heat hours. Wait until evening when temperatures start dropping to open windows for airflow. Proper use of windows can make a big difference.

3. What thermostat setting saves the most on summer energy bills?

Keeping your thermostat set to 78°F rather than a lower temperature offers comfortable cooling while maximizing energy savings. Every degree higher saves up to 3% on cooling costs.

4. Which outdoor shade solutions block sunlight most effectively?

Exterior roller shades and retractable awnings attached under roof eaves provide superior shade while still allowing air circulation. For natural shade, strategically planted trees are highly effective.

5. How often should I change AC air filters in summer?

Plan to change air conditioning filters once a month during peak summer use to maintain proper airflow. Sign up for an AC service plan so technicians handle this maintenance task.

6. Should I use a whole house fan or a window AC unit to cool one room?

A window unit is the better option for cooling a single room efficiently. Whole house fans are designed to lower temperatures throughout the entire home by pulling in cooler outdoor air.


With high heat often comes high electricity bills and general discomfort. But armed with smart tips and innovative solutions, you can make your home an inviting oasis. Elements like exterior shading, humidity control, and strategic thermostat use work together to beat the heat. Invest in upgrades like radiant barriers and energy efficient appliances for long-term savings and comfort. Don’t resign yourself to sweltering indoors during summer – a cool, breezy home is just a few adjustments away even on hot days. Implementing two or three new approaches can make a real difference. Stay chilled out with this comprehensive guide to keeping your home cool all season long!