MADISON, Wis. - With heat index readings spiking to over 100 degrees this week, it's tempting to crank the AC or plant yourself in front of the nearest fan.
But there are other, easy ways to keep cool, without racking up your electric bill.
Here are 10 Consumer Report-approved tips:
1. Keep your blinds closed. Consumer Reports said up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows, so using shades and curtains can save you up to 7 percent on energy bills and lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees.
2. Invest in blackout curtains. Blackout curtains block sunlight, and they naturally insulate your room. Consumer Reports recommends neutral-colored curtains with white plastic backings to reduce the amount of heat that seeps into your home by up to 33 percent.
3. Be smart about your doors. Close the door to any unused rooms during the daytime to prevent the cool air you trapped in during the night from escaping. At night, open up those doors, to let cool air flow naturally through your home.
4. Hack a fan instead of turning on the air-conditioning. 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 the air blows off the ice in an extra-chilled, extra-misty state.
5. Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise. You may not realize that your ceiling fan needs to be adjusted seasonally. Set yours to run counter-clockwise in the summer at a higher speed to create a windchill breeze effect.
6. Focus on the temperature in your body, not the house. From sipping tasty iced drinks to applying a cold cloth to your neck and wrists, there are many ways to cool your body from the inside out. Be smart about what kind of clothes you wear (the lighter the color and fabric, the better.)
7. Sleep low. Heat rises, so sleeping on a couch downstairs, or better yet, in the basement can feel at least 10 degrees cooler. If you don't have multiple levels, moving your mattress to the ground can help you cool down.
8. Let the night air in. Crack the windows before you go to bed. You can even create a wind tunnel by strategically setting up your fans to force the perfect cross breeze. Just be sure to close the windows and blinds before things get too hot in the morning.
9. Start grilling. It's perhaps the most obvious, but don't use your oven or stove in the summer if you're trying to stay cool. They will make your house hotter. The good news: outdoor grills won't, so fire yours up!
10. Make a few long-term improvements. Insulated window films, for example, are a smart purchase as it works similarly to blinds. Additions like awnings and planting trees or vines near light-facing windows can shield your home from the sun and reduce the amount of heat your home absorbs.
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