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Simple ways to beat the heat

August 19, 2011

By Beth Pike, OSU Extension Office in Antlers

Oklahomans have seen some record-breaking heat this summer and it does not appear there is an end to the brutal temperatures anytime soon. I was certainly happy to have a heat break for the canning workshop at the Antlers Farmer’s Market we had on the 11th! 95 degrees sure beats 105 any day! But for those who are opting to stay inside these days, read on to get a few tips on what you can do to beat the heat.

Although air conditioning seems to be the norm, there are some individuals around the state who either do not have it in their homes, or choose not to use it.

One thing that will help your home stay cooler is to keep the heat from building up in the first place. Despite what you may see on some of those home decorating television programs, ceiling fans can make a big difference during the heat of the summer. As a previous interior designer, I never shared the disgust many TV designers express for ceiling fans. I grew up in Oklahoma, so I LOVE a good ceiling fan! As an added bonus, a ceiling fan running on high for 12 hours will cost only about $10 per month in electricity.

Floor or counter model oscillating fans also are a great investment. Humidity makes a room feel hotter, so do laundry or take showers either early or late in the day. Use vents in your kitchen and bathrooms and consider purchasing a dehumidifier if you live in a humid area.

Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, suggests trying to remove heat sources from the home. Think about the variety of things in your house and the heat they produce. It’s easy to understand the oven generates a lot of heat, but don’t overlook the other things that generate heat as well.

Changing incandescent bulbs for cooler fluorescent bulbs will reduce heat gain and save energy, too. Be sure to turn off lights when not in use. Electronic equipment in your home can produce a fair amount of heat. Keep as many of these devices on a power strip and you can quickly shut down the power when you leave your home each day.

“Keep in mind that your appliances generate heat. If you aren’t home during the day, make sure these appliances are turned off,” she said. “If you spend a good portion of the day at home, use heat-generating appliances such as the oven, stove or clothes dryer only during the coolest part of the day.” I had what I like to call a “happy accident” last summer…my dryer broke. Being resourceful, I found some string and strung up a few laundry lines between a couple of trees in my yard. Guess what…I LOVED this new invention! Not only did my laundry smell airy and wonderful, but I saved a lot on electricity and reduced the heat in my home! Although I have since invested in another dryer, I still hang out my clothes nine months out of the year.

Reflecting or blocking sunlight is another way in which people can help keep their homes cooler during the summer months.

Keeping out as much sunlight as possible during the day is an easy way to keep your home cooler. Keep your drapes or blinds closed to block out the sun’s rays, especially on the southern and western sides of your home. Bamboo shades also work well on a southern- or western-facing porch to help provide some shade.

Peek also suggests using white or light colored window treatments to deflect light, or try applying reflective film to windows to help cut down on heat gain. There are products available that will let light in but keep heat out.

We’re still looking at several more weeks of hot temperatures and some of these tips can sure make it a bit more tolerable. Oh! And don’t forget those rain dances!

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