As the temperature outside rises, the annual quest for a cooler home begins — but without spending a fortune on our utility bills.
Try incorporating these home-cooling design moves. By swapping out heavy textiles for airy fabrics and setting up effective cross-ventilation, you can create a cooler house without touching the thermostat. Here’s how to design your way to a chill, summer-ready house.
1. Ditch the fuzzy rugs.
If your home is full of cozy wool rugs or fluffy shag rugs, give them the summer off. Roll them up and store them safely, making sure they are protected from bugs and out of direct sunlight so they won’t fade.
Then, embrace a bare hardwood or stone floor, which is cooler underfoot. For those spots that need a rug, such as beside the bed or under the kitchen sink, swap in a flatwoven rug in a natural fiber.
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2. Invest in cooling window treatments.
Gauzy, lightweight curtains might create a summery vibe in a room, but because they let lots of sunlight filter through and won’t help cool the space. To lower your energy bill, invest in shades that have a white plastic lining on the outside of the window as this reflects back as much light as possible.
3. Create cross ventilation.
For those who don’t have central air conditioning, cross ventilation is your best friend on hot days and will help keep the fresh air circulating.
To start, open two windows (or a window and a door) that are located across the room or even across the house or apartment, depending on the size of your space. Set up a fan next to one window, so it will help propel the fresh incoming air throughout your home. The more powerful the fan, the better the airflow. For extra cooling power, try this trick: Place a bowl of ice in front of the fan to quickly chill the air. If you have a second fan, position it facing out toward the second window, so it will pull the air inside your home back outside.
Pro tip: If you’re working from home this summer, arrange your desk near the path of the airflow, so you’ll get a refreshing breeze all day long.
4. Less is more.
If you typically have your bed and living room sofa piled with an abundance of snuggly blankets and throw pillows, it’s time to streamline.
Now is a great time to wash any removable throw pillow covers and store most of them away for the season. If you decide to leave a pillow or two out, swap the heavy velvet covers for lightweight linen or cotton ones.
Instead of keeping cozy blankets strewn across the bed or sofa, store them nearby in a handwoven floor basket, just in case the A/C gets a little chilly at night.
5. Cool down your bed.
Fact: No matter how hot your home may get during the day, it somehow manages to feel warmer the second your head hits the pillow. To avoid summertime night sweats, building a cooler bed is a must.
Start by investing in ultra-breathable bed sheets. Even if you’re not a fan of a top sheet during the fall or winter months, it may be the perfect replacement for a duvet or comforter this summer.
And don’t forget a cooling pillow. So long, night sweats!
(Real Simple magazine provides smart, realistic solutions to everyday challenges. Online at www.realsimple.com.)