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SOURCE:  Jaymi Naciri for realtytimes.

“Heatwave?  Are you feeling it?  Dreading this month’s electric bill?  Here are a few tricks that can help you keep cool at home without running your air conditioning 24/7…

ADD AN AWNING.  If you are able, an awning can go a long way toward lowering the temps on the inside of your house.  Will you have to lay out money upfront?  Sure.  Will it pay for itself in the end?  Yes.  “Awnings not only add personality to a home’s exterior but offer an excellent defense against the sun in areas with perpetually hot weather (Houzz).  (NOTE:  Connestee Falls area is mountainous, and generally cooler than surrounding areas because of the altitude  – 2,500-3,000 ft.  Cooling applications here are generally more about blocking sun in west or south-facing windows or decks). Exterior awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65% for south-facing windows and 77% for west-facing windows.”  Solar films and solar shades, which block UV rays and keep some of the sun’s heat away can have a similar effect without the architectural change.

GET BLINDS.  Blinds may be a good choice to block heat.  Choose white reflective blinds and you can reduce heat gain by 45%, while still having the option of raising or opening them easily whenever you want.

CAREFULLY SELECT YOUR DRAPES.  If you’re going with drapes for your windows, you’ll want to consider more than the way they look.  “A drapery’s ability to reduce heat loss and gain depends on several factors, including fabric type (closed or open weave) and color (Energy.gov).  Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%.  Draperies also stay cooler in the summer than some other window treatments because their pleats and folds lose heat through convection.”  For maximum heat and light control, look for blackout fabric…drapery fabric with a built-in blackout lining is now available in fabric stores (HomeGuides).  A high-quality blackout fabric or lining blocks 100% of light.  It is now easy to find in panels that can be added to the back of existing drapery.  They can be cut to size by the homeowner and, because the fabric does not fray, does not require hemming.  This is the most immediate and exceptionally effective method of blocking heat transfer.

Motorized window shades and automatic blinds are some of the hottest products for the savvy smart home buyer who wants to maximize their energy savings and have a smarter home.  The ability to control your shades with a smart phone or have them automatically open or close based on timers or pre-programmed conditions is not only a cool home feature, but it saves time and energy by using or defending against the sun’s rays.  (Electronic House).  This is key for people who want to make sure that west-facing window is covered during sunset, and want east-facing windows to get natural light.  These motorized blinds can be part of a complete custom home automation system, or can be added one room at a time, as your budget requires….and each room can be programmed to run its own scenarios in its own way, depending on how the room is used.

STANDING FANS.  With so many fan options out there, you’ll want to check out the reviews (http://www.tenbestreview.com/home-kitchen/top-10-best-cooling-tower-fans/).  On a really hot day, you may also want to think about getting creative with your fan.  Fill a mixing bowl with ice (or something equally cold, like an ice pack) and position it at an angle in front of a large fan, so that the air whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature.  It really works.

REDUCE HUMIDITY IN YOUR  HOME.  Energy companies and green experts already recommend bathing, doing laundry and cooking during cooler times of the day, which can also help you control the heat in your home.  If you have to use the shower, washer, or oven in the heat of day, counteract the heat rise by helping control of the humidity.  Turn on ventilating fans to help extract warm, moist air, but be sure to turn them off when you’re finished so they don’t extract cooler air from the house (Home Tips).

GET A CEILING FAN.  A ceiling fan doesn’t lower the temp in the room, but it can make you more comfortable by circulating the air, allowing you to give your AC a break, or at least turn it down.

GET A WHOLE-HOUSE FAN.  These can use as little as 10-20% of the energy expended by an AC unit, depending on the size of the unit. A whole-house (attic) fan ($1,000-$1,600, including installation) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents (Houselogic).

TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR SHEETS.…Sheets made of certain materials can make it worse, but new options can help.  Cool bed sheets are made with natural fibers that are breathable and can prevent perspiration or feature moisture-wicking fabrics that whisk your sweat away faster than you can produce it — so you stay dry through the night (Bustle). Considering that the ideal temp for sleep is between 60-67 degrees, it stands to reason that sleeping with sheets that keep you cool can make your bed feel less like a sauna is a very good idea.  Look for natural fibers like cotton (especially Egyptian) or bamboo, and away from sateen and silk.

SOURCE:  Jaymi Naciri for realty times.  IMAGE:  Pinterest

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