12 Ways to Beat the Heat Inside Your Home (2024)

As someone who spends a lot of time in attics and crawlspaces, I know how brutal the summer heat can be. But trust me, you don’t have to suffer through the hot weather inside your own home. I’ve seen all sorts of clever ways homeowners have found to keep their cool, without breaking the bank on sky-high AC bills.

Whether it’s simple tricks like managing your window coverings or more involved projects like insulating your attic, there are plenty of affordable options to turn your house into a refreshing oasis. Let me share a few of my favorite tried-and-true tips for beating the heat and saving some serious energy in the process.

1. Close Blinds and Curtains

Mini blinds or curtains can reduce the sunlight and heat streaming in through your windows, creating a blackout inside your home.

At my house, simply installing blinds on the south-facing windows completely changed the temperature in that part of the house.

Make sure blinds or curtains are white on the side facing the outdoors — white reflects the sun more than other colors.

Solar sunscreens and window film are other options that can greatly reduce the heat coming through windows.

closing curtains

2. Install Cool Lighting

Incandescent light bulbs can significantly heat up a room. That’s just one reason why more and more homeowners have turned to alternatives.

Another reason is they’re not energy-efficient and alternatives, such as CFLs and LEDs, last much longer.

Replace standard bulbs with high-efficiency, low-heat LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs, and turn off the lights when they’re not needed.

(©igorkol_ter, Adobe Stock Photos)

3. Cook Wisely

Eat cold meals, cook outside on the grill, or use the microwave for cooking, when possible, to minimize heat indoors.

Here’s how to beat the heat when you do cook indoors:

  • Use pressure cookers and slow cookers
  • Cover pots to minimize indoor humidity.
  • Use a range hood or microwave vent fan to vent hot air outside.
  • Check the oven by turning on the light and looking through the glass, rather than opening the oven door.
  • Turn the oven off a few minutes before the food is cooked to reduce oven heat.
cook wisely

4. Turn Off Electronics

Computers, TVs, and other electronics generate quite a bit of heat when sitting idle or even when turned off, so unplug devices when they’re not in use.

Another easy way to beat the heat these electronics produce is to plug them into a surge protector that has an on/off switch, then turn the switch off when the devices are not in use.

5. Repair Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are a major source of heat gain in the house. Older single-pane windows and doors without proper weatherstripping are the worst culprits.

So keep windows closed and locked, and doors tightly closed to prevent cool air from escaping.

If you can’t replace your windows and doors with more energy-efficient models, repair any gaps or replace weatherstripping around windows and doors.

Also, don’t open windows at night unless the temperature drops to the mid-70s Fahrenheit, or lower.

6. Use Fans for Cooling

A paddle ceiling fan or portable fan uses much less energy than an air conditioner, but it’s only effective when you’re in the room to feel the cooling, so turn fans off when you leave.

When you need to beat the heat, run ceiling fans in a counterclockwise direction (when looking up) when you’re in the room to help keep you cool through evaporation.

This will allow you to set the thermostat on your air conditioner higher and save energy, keeping your energy bill lower.

7. Clean Air Conditioner Filters

While your AC system is cranking away, the filter is getting more use than usual.

Changing the AC air filter every month or so during the highest-use months allows air to flow easily through your HVAC system, making it run more efficiently and saving energy.

8. Put Off Chores

You heard me! Don’t run the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, or other appliances during the heat of the day, since these machines generate heat and humidity that will be hard to overcome.

If you really want to beat the heat, you need to change your habits — just for the summer — and put these chores off until the evening when possible.

When cleaning clothes:

  • Wash clothes in cold water.
  • Run the washer or dryer only if you have a full load.
  • Choose the shortest wash cycle that gets the job done.
  • Clean dryer vent pipe and lint screen regularly to lower drying time.
  • Dry clothes outside on a clothesline when possible.

9. Use Less Hot Water

Turn your water heater down to a lower temperature setting so it will run less and produce less heat.

Hot showers create a lot of excess heat and humidity in the house, so:

  • Take shorter showers to reduce humidity and heat.
  • Take cool — rather than hot — showers.
  • Run the bathroom exhaust fan when showering or bathing, and keep it running for 20 minutes afterward, to remove excess heat and humidity.

10. Plan Ahead

Long-term strategies to beat the heat and keep your house cooler include:

These are only a few of the many strategies for keeping your house cool in the summer.

Put some of these home improvements on your to-do list for relief in years to come.

  • Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of the house.
  • Install insulated glass windows with low-E coating or storm windows.
  • Add awnings over sunny windows.
  • Install additional attic insulation.
  • Replace the existing roof with cool shingles or light-colored roofing.

11. Stay Out Of the Heat

One of the simplest ways to beat the heat inside your home is to limit your exposure to it. During the hottest parts of the day, try to spend time in the coolest areas of your house. Basements or rooms without direct sunlight exposure tend to stay cooler.

You can also consider running errands or doing outdoor activities in the cooler morning or evening hours to avoid being inside when temperatures peak.

12. Attic Fans

Attic fans can be very effective at removing hot air that builds up in your attic space. As hot air rises, it gets trapped in the attic, radiating heat down into your living areas. An attic fan helps exhaust that super-heated air to the outdoors by adding airflow.

Look for solar-powered models that run during the day when attic heating is most intense. Proper attic ventilation, combined with adequate insulation, is key to an energy-efficient, cool home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How cool should my house be if it’s 100 outside?

As a general rule, you’ll want to keep your home around 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature when it’s very hot out. So if it’s 100°F outside, aim to keep your home around 78–80°F. Any lower and your AC will have to work extremely hard and use a lot of energy.

How do I keep my house cool in extreme heat?

During extreme heat waves, employ all the cooling strategies – close blinds, use fans, limit heat-generating activities, seal drafts, and make sure your AC is working efficiently with a clean filter.

You may also want to invest in window shades, awnings or attic fans to reduce the solar heat gain. Stay hydrated and limit time outdoors during peak temperatures.

What should I set my AC at during heatwave?

For most people, setting the AC thermostat between 78–80°F is recommended during a heatwave when temperatures are 95°F or higher.

This prevents your system from having to work overtime while still providing decent comfort levels. Using fans can make it feel a few degrees cooler as well.

How do you stay cool in a heat wave?

Stay indoors as much as possible in air conditioning. Drink plenty of fluids, wear lightweight clothing, limit strenuous activities, and try to spend time on the lowest level of your home since heat rises.

Take cool showers or use cold packs/towels on pulse points if you don’t have AC. Seek out public buildings, malls, or libraries that are air-conditioned during peak heat hours.

Final Thoughts

There you have it — my top tips for keeping your home cool all summer long without going broke on utility bills. Trust me, after spending way too many sweltering days up in boiling attics, I know how miserable the heat can be. But a little know-how goes a long way.

Whether it’s simple adjustments like closing the blinds and managing that thermostat, or slightly bigger projects like sealing drafts or adding insulation, these strategies really do make a difference. And who knows — you might even find you don’t need to crank the AC quite as much once you put some of these steps into practice.

The bottom line is, a little preparation now means more comfort later when the mercury starts rising. So don’t just sit there melting – start checking off that to-do list. Your cooler, more comfortable home (and much happier self) will thank you for it.

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Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Coty Perry.

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