8 Tips to Cool Your Home Better During a Heat Wave

Let’s face it…it’s been freakin’ hot out this summer! It’s only the early part of July and we’ve already had a couple of solid heat waves…and the worst is yet to come!

According to many indicators analyzed by the U.S. Global Change Research program, current heat wave frequency and the length of our recent heat waves have increased since the mid 1960’s. The average heat wave season is now 45 days longer than it was 50 years ago! But there IS a way to beat the heat during a heat wave!


The unusually high temperatures reached during a heat wave are often a challenge for many air conditioning systems. Now don’t be surprised if your AC unit never turns off on extremely hot days and the temperature inside your home starts to creep up beyond where you set your thermostat…this can be a normal occurrence. But don’t worry, the air conditioner will eventually catch up overnight – or maybe towards the morning hours when it’s cooler outside. Below we have some tips to help you cool your home more efficiently during a heat wave! First, we need to make sure your air conditioner is functioning properly…here are some quick problems to look for!

Why is my air conditioner not cooling my house below 80 degrees?

Certain issues or problems can often prevent your air conditioning unit from properly cooling down your home on extremely hot days. These issues or problems may include:

  • A dirty air filter (good maintenance is always key)
  • A slow refrigerant leak (sometimes an easy fix)
  • A blocked condensing unit (a common problem at the shore)
  • Ducts leaking inside the home (efficiency loss is possible)
  • An undersized or older air conditioning unit (time to call us)

But there is also a possibility nothing is actually “wrong” with your air conditioning unit…properly cooling a home starts with the outside temperature!

How cool should I expect my home to get during a heat wave?

The greatest air conditioner in the world is only going to cool your home about 20 degrees cooler than the current outside temperature. Maybe a little more if you take the time to implement a few of these helpful tips for cooling your home on extremely hot days – like during a heat wave where temperatures exceed 90 degrees!

Here are 8 tips to cool your home better during a heat wave!

Anything you can do to keep your home a little bit cooler on extremely hot days will mean your air conditioning system does not need to be running as long for each cooling cycle; which will save you money on cooling costs as well as conserve energy.

1. Set the thermostat higher

In extreme temperatures it’s best not to turn “up” the AC to save a few dollars because it puts your AC unit in an uphill fight trying to cool down your home. Set your thermostat on 75-78 degrees (or higher) and learn to live with a little heat.

2. Turn the fan switch to the “on” position

Turning your fan switch to the “on” position instead of leaving it on “auto” will help circulate the air in your home and also help rooms that are too hot or cool. This approach will help “some” with the temperature differences in 2 story homes. We have better solutions to fix this common problem if this technique does not help.

3. Keep shades closed on extremely hot days

Did you ever wonder how people lived without air conditioning a 100+ years ago? They used the natural shade of trees and closed the curtains/shades to keep the home cooler. Keeping the shades closed on the sunny side of the house will assist in cooling the home on extremely hot days.

4. Close off unused rooms to conserve energy

If your entire home is not being occupied at the moment, take a few minutes and close the air vents inside the unused rooms or bathrooms. The doors should also be closed to these rooms to conserve energy and force the cool air to stay in the occupied areas of your home. This technique can sometimes lower the ambient temperature of your home a few degrees (or more).

5. Consider using ceiling fans to keep you cool

One of the biggest myths about ceiling fans are that they cool the air in a room…not true! The ceiling fan cools the occupant, not the air. A ceiling fan (or floor fan) will dry up the perspiration on your skin and make you feel cooler…so your thermostat can be set higher so your air conditioning system doesn’t need to work as hard to cool your home or your family!

6. Don’t use appliances on extremely hot days

Did someone say “let’s go out to dinner”? Not using the stove, dishwasher or dryer on extremely hot days will help keep your home cooler by simply not introducing heat into an already warm environment. Isn’t summer a great time to use the grille and cook outdoors? Who doesn’t love a good BBQ!?! If you do need to use these appliances, try limiting their use to certain times of the day when the outside temperatures are cooler and your AC unit isn’t working overtime to cool your home.

7. Properly maintain your air conditioning unit for maximum efficiency

A properly maintained air conditioning system will yield years of comfort in your home and should keep your utility bills in check. For all of our friends along the shore, this it the time of year we begin to see the impact of salt deterioration on your AC unit. The salt corrodes the aluminum coils which, over time, reduces the capacity it had when it was a newer unit and uses significantly more energy to cool your home. When this happens, it also means the unit itself can’t cool off. The result of this is where we see a lot of shutdowns because the components are being stressed.

8. Consider upgrading your air conditioning system

When your car gets older and accumulates the miles, it loses power and efficiency over time. Just like your car, an older air conditioning system may not be able to properly cool your home as well as it did when it was first installed.

According to ENERGY.GOV, if your AC unit is older than 10 years old, you should think about replacing it. Although an air conditioner can last up to 20 years in a normal environment (which we DO NOT have here at the shore), it loses about 40% of it’s efficiency after 10 years and the newer technology can also save you up to 20% on cooling costs when upgrading.

QUICK TEST – If you look at your AC unit and the coils are powdery white or flaking off, it’s time to budget for replacement. By the way, the salt atmosphere here along the shore can impact air conditioning units as far as 5-10 miles inland…we have even seen these problems inland west of Route 9 and beyond!

Have you heard about Carrier Coastal Systems designed specifically for Jersey Shore homes?

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Need HVAC Service?

Contact the experts at Comfort Now by Bob McAllister.

Call us at 609-400-1005!