15 Ways You Can Lower Your Cooling Costs This August & Other Beat The Summer Heat Tips
The dog days of summer have arrived, and while we are all looking forward to Fall temperatures, we have a bit more heat to endure. Here is a quick look at average August temperatures across the Commonwealth by city:
|City||Average High||Average Low|
|Norfolk||86° F||71° F|
|Richmond||88° F||66° F|
|Charlottesville||86° F||65° F|
|Fredericksburg||88° F||63° F|
|Harrisonburg||84° F||60° F|
|Staunton||83° F||62° F|
|Lynchburg||85° F||63° F|
|Roanoke||86° F||65° F|
|Danville||88° F||66° F|
|Lexington||86° F||62° F|
The warmest place in Virginia is Newport News with an annual high of 71° F. The coldest spot in Virginia is, ironically, Hot Springs with a yearly average low of 40° F.
Lower Your Cooling Costs
With the right insulation, window coverings, smart devices, and more, you can stay comfortable and protect your belongings for less money this August.
The ideal summer temperature in Virginia is 78° F. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature a few degrees higher for when you aren’t there and save on energy. You don’t want to turn it off or go too high, however. Your furniture, carpets, and curtains hold heat. If you allow the air to get too warm, it takes more energy to cool it and your belongings down.
And while we’re on thermostats, don’t place any electronics, lamps, or appliances near your thermostat. These items give off heat and can signal your AC to turn on when it isn’t needed.
Keep your HVAC or Window Units in Top Shape
Have your air-conditioning units regularly serviced to keep them running at maximum efficiency. Twice yearly visits will help in both seasons, and changing out filters every month will keep the unit from drawing more power than needed.
Sun-shade screens, or solar screens, are usually installed on the outside of your windows and act to block out heat and light. They look like insect screens but are made in varying densities to suit your needs.
Window and deck/patio awnings can cool surface and air temperatures in and around your home considerably. Patio umbrellas can help as well by limiting reflective heat.
Shades and Curtains
Closing window shades and curtains on hot sunny days can help keep inside temperatures lower. Curtains with light-colored lining reflect heat better.
Seal Windows, Doors and Ducts
Expensive, cooled air can leak from gaps around your windows, doors, and ductwork. Inspect these and fill in where needed with caulk or weatherstripping.
After sealing any leaks or holes in your attic into your home (look around exhaust pipes and wiring), add insulation according to the Department of Energy’s recommendations.
As long as trees and limbs are not a threat to your roof or siding, a strategically placed tree can block out afternoon rays can help keep your energy costs down. Deciduous trees that will allow light through in the winter are a bonus for helping your home stay warm in cold months. For example, Natchez Crepe Myrtle grows to a height of 25′ to 30′ with thin branches. It blooms mid-summer and offers wonderful shade for 9 months of the year. The bark is also a beautiful bonus. If you let the tree grow naturally, it will thrive and provide year-round enjoyment. For more information on how trees add value to your property, click here.
Fans won’t cool air temperature, but they will act to create a wind chill when blowing on your skin and evaporating moisture. Ceiling fans should be set to run counter-clockwise.
Install an attic fan to create air circulation in your attic by forcing out stifling hot air and bringing in cooler outside air. Though hot air rises, moist hot air can fall through gaps and heat your ceilings and drywall, heating the inside air. These fans should be set between 100 and 110 degrees to turn on and stay on until the temperature drops.
Don’t Cook, Clean, or Dry Clothes During the Day
It is better to wait until the sun has gone down to dry your clothes, run your dishwasher, vacuum, cook a meal, or even take a shower. The activities add heat and moisture to the air and can make your AC system work harder.
Rather than heat up your kitchen, do your meal prep outdoors in the early evening. For tips on keeping your home and yourself safe while grilling, click here.
If you do have to take a shower during the day, be sure to run the exhaust fan to remove the moisture in the air. Otherwise, don’t run any fans that will draw the cool air from inside your house to the outside.
Incandescent bulbs put out heat, so leave lights off if you still have some in your sockets. If you are using newer energy-efficient bulbs, they still put out some heat, but not as much. If you can leave lights off, however, that will help with your energy usage, and some health experts say that the darkness can help you feel cooler.
Rooms & Doors
Open vents halfway in unused rooms and keep the doors closed. This way, your AC is focused on the spaces you use.
If you find yourself Without AC, Focus on your Body and Not the Air Temperature
- Freeze Your Sheets – This is an oddball way of staying cool, but if you find yourself without air conditioning, it is one way to help you cool off so you can get to sleep. Put your sheets in the freezer for two hours before bedtime, and put them on your bed and enjoy.
- Stay Hydrated – There’s nothing like a glass of ice-tea on a hot day to cool down your body. To make your tea, try putting the tea bags in a jar out in the sun rather than using your stove or microwave.
- Put Ice in your Hot Water Bottle and Create a “Chillow”
- Put your feet in an ice bath
- Take a wonderfully cool shower (remember to turn on your bath exhaust fan to remove the moisture in the air).
Heat and Your Belongings
Other than comfort, heat can harm many of your belongings over time. Here are eight common items that can lose value and usefulness when exposed to August temperatures.
Works of Art
Paintings can fade and even melt in hot summer temperatures. They should never be stored in garages or attics where temperatures can surpass outdoor highs.
Leather furniture, clothes, and accessories can dry out and crumble if exposed to temperatures like those Virginians experience in the summer. High humidity can also cause mildew damage.
If you have ever owned a piece of furniture imported from England, you’ve no doubt heard those disconcerting pops that come with temperatures are warmer. Add humidity and the wood on any piece of furniture can absorb excess moisture, crack and rot over time.
Furs should always be kept in cold storage, but even delicate fabrics like silk and fine cottons can be damaged by heat and moisture.
Keeping electronics in hot and humid conditions will ruin them quickly. The moisture will damage internal parts, and the heat can warp and crack the plastic parts.
Photos will yellow and fade quickly in heat and humidity, and mold and mildew can destroy your important documents and memories.