Do’s and don’ts of staying cool

Q: What’s the best way – using air conditioning, dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, etc. – to keep my house cool in the summer?

A: For starters, keep the sun out (especially the western afternoon sun) using window shades, blinds, or drapes. If it’s nice out, open your windows and turn on a whole-house fan or a bathroom exhaust fan, or just put a box fan on one of the windowsills. When it gets uncomfortable outside, it’s time to fire up your air conditioner. That’s the only device that can reduce the temperature and humidity inside a home. Fans mix the air, keeping conditions more uniform. More important, as they blow air across your body (the windchill effect), fans increase moisture evaporation from the skin, making you cooler. So using fans and an A/C lets you raise the temperature on your A/C thermostat, which will reduce your electric energy costs (a fan uses a lot less electricity than an A/C). You can keep you’re A/C in tip-top shape by cleaning or replacing the air filter and vacuuming the cooling coils in late spring or early summer. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that dehumidifiers can help cool the air. In fact, they usually make the air hotter, so they should be used in non-air-conditioned areas of the home, such as basements.

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