Oh summer, how hot are thee!
Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that summer 2020 in the Northern Hemisphere came in as the hottest ever recorded.
Within the U.S., seven states had record-breaking temperatures in July. Temperatures like this bring about a plethora of issues from intensified droughts to extreme wildfire seasons.
Unfortunately, though, it's not just in the Northern Hemisphere heating up. Across the globe, temperatures keep climbing. 2020 ended up tying with 2016 as the hottest year ever on record.
As we face a warming world, it's more important now more than ever before to know how to keep cool during the hottest part of the year.
Sometimes coming inside isn't always enough to get actual relief from the summer heat. Houses and apartments often trap heat really well. It's up to you to find ways to cool down a room when the summer sun has warmed up too much.
Here are some tips on how to keep your apartment cool.
The more sunlight that comes into your home, the hotter it's going to get. You can decrease the heat in your apartment by keeping blinds closed at the right times of the day.
Usually, the hottest part of the day is mid-afternoon around 3 p.m. This is because, even though the sun is no longer at its midday peak, the earth is expelling the heat it soaked up. Obviously, this does vary depending on where you live.
So you want to keep your blinds and curtains closed around noon and throughout the afternoon — usually during the peak times of day for temperature, which is between 2 and 7 p.m.
“By closing the blinds, you keep direct sunlight out of your home and reduce unwanted solar heat gain," said Cora Wilder from hunker.
Also, focus on the part of the apartment you're going to use the most. Closing off other parts of the apartment cuts down on air circulation.
Using lighter-colored or neutral curtains or blinds will help reflect heat out. You can also invest in black-out curtains. They're good for more than blocking out light so you can sleep — their tight weave bounces off heat.
Once the sun goes down, you can open your blinds a little to allow some of the trapped heat to escape. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your apartment cool.
Sometimes, the building you're living in may not have the most energy-efficient windows. This is especially found in older apartments.
Say you don't want to always have the blinds closed though and maybe you have a great view or really enjoy the occasional sunbeam inside your home — there is another option for how to cool down a room that has lots of windows. Window film is one savvy way to keep that pesky heat out.
Window film works by adhering to your window to block heat flow from getting in through the glass. It's an effective way to save money on your energy bill as well.
You can also use temperature control film, which does an even better job of keeping your apartment cool. These films can block nearly 80 percent of solar heat and up to 99 percent of UV rays. Spectrally selective window film is the best option. Not only does it do an amazing job keeping heat out, but it also allows plenty of light in.
If you have an air conditioner in your apartment, finding a balance between a comfortable temperature and one that's energy-efficient can make a big difference on your bill. Cool things down while you're home with a setting around 72 or 73 degrees, but know that on especially hot days, your AC will work itself pretty hard.
When you're not in the house, turn the AC up to around 78 degrees Fahrenheit for peak efficiency. This is also the ideal temperature for balancing chilled-down comfort with energy efficiency. Living with roommates? Make sure to compromise and find a temperature that works for everyone living in the apartment.
Make sure your property manager changes the filters in your unit twice a year to maximize performance. If you're using a window unit, the filter is reusable but needs a good periodic rinse to clean away the dust that accumulates.
Whether you realize it, air is moving and flowing through your apartment. When the air conditioner runs or the fans are on, the air is moving through every open room of your home.
You can create a natural flow of this cooler air specifically to the rooms you're using. Close the doors of any rooms not in use, but keep doors open to places like your bedroom and bathroom. This ensures that the cool air flows to where you need it the most.
It's not rocket science that a simple portable fan will make your room cooler. Whether running on batteries or electricity, a fan blowing its cool air directly on you is a great way to beat the heat.
Be mindful of the placement of the fans. If you have multiple fans, set them up so that they intersect, the air hitting you from multiple directions. If you're using a box fan big enough to fit within an open window, face it out rather than toward you.
While the fan's air won't blow on you, the room will still cool down as the hot air gets pulled out of your apartment and spit back outside. Send the hot air packing and make room for cooler air to settle into your home.
Maximize this effect with a simple household item for an even cooler space. Fill a large bowl with ice or ice packs and put it in front of your fan. As it blows across the ice, it creates a portable air conditioner that can move with you from room to room.
Once the heat decreases, close the window and direct the fan's breeze back towards you.
Not all apartments have ceiling fans, but if you're lucky enough to get a place with them, make sure the blades go in the right direction. During the summer, fan blades create the coolest breeze if they're moving counterclockwise.
On hot days, the last thing you want is more heat in your apartment. This may mean staying out of the kitchen. Using ovens and stoves to cook meals raises the temperature in your home — sometimes by a lot.
Redirect your cooking energy. Try out an Instapot meal or cook with a Crock-Pot. Cool things down with a hearty salad. Plan an outside barbecue or head to your favorite restaurant for dinner.
You can try to cook later in the day as it cools down if you absolutely need to use the oven or stove. And whenever possible, take advantage of nice weather to cook meals outside on the grill (if you have a patio or backyard).
Light fixtures put out excess heat in an apartment. Regular bulbs radiate a lot of extra heat when they're on, but energy-efficient bulbs don't.
Replace your bulbs with more energy-efficient options, such as LED bulbs. “While LEDs will generate heat," said EarthLed, “it will be a fraction of that compared to a traditional technology bulb."
Using those fans that blow cool air on you as your primary source for heat relief is a great way to keep your space cool, but don't discount those fans that suck out the air. The design of the exhaust fan in the hood above your stove or in your bathroom pulls air out from a room.
Normally, exhaust fans remove cooking smells and smoke or bathroom odors and moisture. But great news — they can also extract hot air from your apartment to make room for cooler air. Use them right after you get home to pull out the hot, stagnant air that's piled up from the day. They'll allow your air conditioner to take effect much faster.
During the height of summer, your nights might not get that cool — luckily though, most warm days usher in cooler nights. Take advantage of this soothing air by opening up some windows to let a nice breeze in and cool the air.
Angle fans to suck in the cool, outdoor air and get a leg up on the next day's heat. Just don't forget to close the windows when the sun comes up.
Even if your bedroom stays on the warm side, there's no reason you can't keep things cool when you go to sleep.
Place your sheets and pillowcases in the freezer a few hours before bedtime and make your bed with them right before you get in. This can help cool your body down enough to fall asleep without the tossing and turning brought on by warm temperatures. Combine the freezer trick with linen, cotton or percale sheets to keep air flowing over you throughout the night.
The same trick will work for clothes, so while you can't open the freezer to cool the room, you can use it to cool your pajamas or sleep clothing.
If you can afford the extra investment for when it's really hot, consider purchasing temperature-regulating sheets. These can work in several different ways. Some options feature extremely airy, breathable materials like cotton or Egyptian cotton with lightweight materials that don't trap heat. Others feature technologically advanced threads that absorb heat during the day and release it at night to help the body maintain the steady temperature required for a good night's sleep.
Now — that's using technology to your advantage to overcome the heat!
If you're renting your apartment, this is an option you'd definitely need to run by your landlord if your building doesn't already have insulation. But if you're running out of methods on how to keep your apartment cool, it's time to break out the big guns.
Make sure the walls and other areas where air can leak in or out have a form of insulation. Just as insulation keeps heat in during the winter, it can help keep your apartment cool for summer. Without something to stop the flow of air through small cracks and holes, the hot air outside seeps into the apartment you've worked so hard to cool down — making your AC or fans work harder (which will run up your utility bill and waste energy).
So, if it's an option, consider adding insulation into the walls or attic of your apartment or building to save on energy costs. You can also add weather stripping to doors and windows. This is a less invasive but still effective method of preventing the leakage of cool air.
If you love redecorating and need a different approach on how to cool down a room or keep your apartment cool overall, repainting is a great option. If you live in a state where summers are typically stifling, it is worth taking this extra step to heat-proof your apartment by painting it.
Lighter paints like white or cool, neutral colors feature fewer pigments — so they don't absorb heat the same way darker paints do. Instead, they reflect the light back. This is a handy and stylish way to cool down a room, especially if it's one you spend a lot of time in or that heats up a lot during summer. Plus, it gives you a chance to give your space a fresh summertime-ready upgrade.
You can even buy “smart" paints with added elements or tech to better reflect UV rays.
If you can't cool down a room to your liking, it's time to focus on ways that help you chill out. Namely, that's keeping your body cool. As long as you feel cool, it's OK that your environment is a little on the warm side. You'll still feel relatively comfortable.
Try these tips:
Heat isn't something to take lightly since it can cause serious harm. Your body begins to tell you it's getting too hot when you begin to sweat. Whether you're sitting around, doing nothing on a very hot day or working hard in lesser heat, anything that raises your body temperature leads to sweating.
Sweating is the first sign it is too hot, but other effects of heat exposure are very serious, including:
Beating the heat is about staying cool and safe all summer long. Whether you're hanging out or in the middle of a rigorous activity like moving to a new apartment, it's important to take the proper precautions and not overheat.
Keep yourself and your home cool as best you can, and you'll survive until that first colorful leaf of fall drops from the trees.