8 Ways to Passively Cool Your Home, Office

Nearly 109 million people in the U.S. are under excessive heat warnings this week. Here’s how to keep your indoor space cool while moderating your energy costs.

As temperatures soar in many areas across the country, homeowners are looking for relief while also keeping their utility bills in check.

Steve Wilson, director of technical underwriting at home insurance group Hippo, says “passively cooling” your home will put less burden on your air conditioning to manage the indoor temperatures. After all, he warns, cranking up the AC to lower the indoor temperature will cause your system to work harder and lead to soaring energy costs. Wilson’s advice: Keep the thermostat to a commonly maintained temperature throughout the day—it should vary no more than 10 to 15 degrees, even while you’re away—and rely on other steps to keep your home cool.

“Surprisingly, there are things you can do to keep cool while maintaining your energy costs and, in turn, energy usage by maximizing efficiency of cooling systems through DIY home maintenance and upgrades,” Wilson says. He offers the following tips:

  1. Close the blinds. Using window coverings can reduce heat entering the home by up to 77%, according to the Department of Energy. To block as much heat from entering as possible, use blackout or light-colored curtains with plastic backings, Wilson says.
  2. Open interior doors. This will allow air to move freely throughout the house, Wilson says. However, “if there’s a room in your home with a lot of windows, keeping the door closed is the best way to keep cool air inside,” he adds.
  3. Run ceiling fans in reverse. Have a fan rotating counterclockwise so that it pushes air down to the floor and creates a cool breeze for the room. Ceiling fans can help lessen the burden on your air conditioner.
  4. Install window film. This can help block heat while still retaining light and not interrupting views from the home. Add this special film around the windows to help reduce cool air from escaping your home.
  5. Remove incandescent lightbulbs. These bulbs produce as much heat as they do light. Instead, use compact fluorescent lamps and LED lighting, Wilson suggests.
  6. Watch your electronic usage. Many electronics can give off heat. “If you’re not using the printer, toaster or microwave, it might make sense to leave it unplugged,” particularly in the evening when you’re not using them, Wilson says. Also, avoid using appliances that let off excessive heat, such as a dryer, until temperatures drop in the evening. This will help avoid bringing extra heat inside your home.
  7. Check your home’s insulation. Insulation isn’t just for heating a home; it can help cool it, too. “Insulation is a layer of material in your walls, ceiling, floor and roof that moderates the temperature inside your home,” Wilson says. “It helps block the heat from entering your home.”
  8. Use houseplants to absorb heat. Place sun-loving plants in the windows. They can help absorb solar energy, Wilson says. In fact, a NASA study shows that plants can “sweat,” which ultimately helps remove heat from your indoor air and provides a subtle cooling effect.