The Washington, DC area recently experienced a tremendous heatwave, forcing residents to crank their air conditioners or find creative ways to keep cool. Humid and sticky nights can be unbearable and make it impossible to sleep, especially in homes with inefficient air conditioning or no air conditioning at all. If you’re lucky enough to have a decent air conditioning system, you will still need to account for increased energy bills during peak grid usage times—running them could potentially drive up your electric bill astronomically.
Luckily, there are several options for keeping cool during the hot DC summers. If you’re interested in beating the heat without breaking the bank, consider a few of the following tips to keep your home cooler even without air conditioning.
Six Things to Do in Washington, DC to Beat the Heat
If you are looking for ways to beat the heat in DC without spending too much on electricity, a few clever and easy tricks can save you money and keep you comfortable all summer long.
1. Arrange a PEPCO Energy Audit
The Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) provides energy to the Washington, DC area, and this public utility company allows area residents to schedule mass save energy audits. The best part about this service is that it is free to area residents; you just need to call to schedule your audit. A PEPCO representative will visit your home and conduct a brief inspection to look for ways to keep your home cooler.
The quickest and easiest way to save money on your energy bills is to ask your energy company for tips. These may include:
- Tightening up the airflow through your home to keep cooler air inside and hot air outside.
- Sealing windows and doors with caulk or sealant to minimize drafts.
- Adding insulation to your attic or crawlspace. This helps normalize the temperature inside the home.
- Closing off fireplaces. Some older fireplaces may have cracks in their bricks or other flaws that allow heat into the home, so some homeowners may need to arrange chimney repairs.
- Replacing inefficient doors and air conditioning units. Renters will need to ask their landlords about how to handle these issues. Most renters do not have permission to arrange for repairs to a rental unit on their own. However, renters can certainly arrange for free PEPCO energy audits and then provide their landlords with the results.
Every DC home is different, and some styles of homes require specialized heating and cooling solutions. Sometimes that means necessitating repairs or small renovations like door replacements or air conditioning system upgrades. A PEPCO energy audit is a great first step toward making your home more energy-efficient, which means more significant savings on your energy bills.
Here are a few other ways to beat the summer heat.
2. Manage Your Home’s Natural Light
The blinds, shades, and curtains that hang over your home’s windows are much more than decorative ways to darken a room before watching a movie or going to sleep. The style, construction, and material of these window accompaniments have a direct impact on the interior temperature of your home. Natural light is great for aesthetic purposes and can help make a space more inviting in more comfortable weather. However, that same natural light can make your home much hotter during the summer.
Natural light during hot weather can transfer most of its energy into heat inside a home. You don’t need to completely seal out the natural light shining through your windows; keep blinds and shades partially open to enjoy natural light without overheating the interior of your home. However, if the sun is blazing directly through a window, it’s probably time to close the shutters or draw the blinds closed. You can also invest in higher quality windows to beat the heat. Window tinting is a lower-cost alternative that can help reduce heat from natural light.
3. Use Fans for Better Air Circulation
Air travels differently depending on the style of the home. You may have a fairly new air conditioning system but still, notice some areas of your home are more comfortable than others. If you’re looking for cheap air conditioning alternatives in DC, ceiling fans, box fans, and standing floor fans can be great assets for these homes. Many of these devices can be more energy-efficient than air conditioning in some smaller homes, and occupants of larger homes can position standing fans to assist in airflow throughout as well.
Are you asking yourself, “do ceiling fans save energy?” While it may seem like an air conditioning system will do a better job, high-efficiency ceiling fans can help cool an interior space better than you might expect—and for a fraction of the cost of running your air conditioning.
4. Avoid Cooking Indoors
One of the best parts about summer grilling is that you get to avoid heating up the inside of your home by using your stove or oven. If you have a grill, summer is the time to use it, so you don’t overwork your air conditioning to compensate for a hot oven. You can also find new types of meals to prepare if you don’t enjoy cooking outside but are still curious about ways to beat the heat. Cold cut sandwiches, fresh summer salads, and fruit and cheese platters are just a few examples of refreshing summer meals to try that don’t involve the cooking appliances.
5. Shut Down and Unplug Unused Electronics
One of the best things to do in Washington, DC to beat the heat is to unplug any appliances you aren’t using. Unplugging the refrigerator to save energy may not be the best idea unless you have a low-cost backup plan for your groceries. But you can unplug other appliances until you need to use them. Many commercial appliances and electronics continue to draw power even after you shut them off as long as they remain connected to a power source.
If you want to know how to save energy at home during a hot summer in DC, take a look at the electronics and appliances throughout your home, and consider how often you use them. Items like TVs, game consoles, microwaves, washers, dryers, and dishwashers continue to draw power in their standby modes—driving up your energy costs and generating heat in your home.
6. Change Your Bed Linens
While you may have a favorite set of sheets for your bed or feel stuck on a particular linen arrangement, in the summer, your comfort while sleeping should be your top priority. Swap your fleece and down blankets or comforters for a cooler set of high thread count cotton sheets. This is one of the easiest ways to stay cool during hot summer nights without blasting your air conditioning and driving up your energy bill.
If you want to save energy, solutions exist in places you least expect them. Consider this list of tips and look for ways to cut energy costs for your DC home this summer and beat the heat without sacrificing your bank account.
Have additional questions about saving money on your rental property? Contact our team of property managers at Bay Property Management Group today!