13 smart, but simple, hacks to cool your home this summer – and on a budget

Keeping your home cool starts with just a few simple, but smart, investments. Picture: Avinash Gumber/Pexels

Keeping your home cool starts with just a few simple, but smart, investments. Picture: Avinash Gumber/Pexels

Published Nov 20, 2023


Heat waves predicted for parts of the country this week could be the start of another very hot summer in South Africa, and if you do not have air-conditioning at home, you may already be feeling the heat.

And we all know the frustration and discomfort that come with not being able to escape the rising temperatures and humidity, and not being able to feel a breeze through open doors or windows.

Fortunately, there are some home alterations you can undertake to prepare for the summer months – and even a number of simple, but affordable, hacks to keep your home cool.

Options for those who can afford to spend some money

Installing an air-conditioning unit or having proper insulation installed in your ceiling are among the most effective ways of keeping your home cool during the summer months, and although these options are more expensive than purchasing a fan at your local supermarket, Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says the money won’t be wasted.

“Unlike most cheaper options, these solutions will make a noticeable difference in the temperature of your home, as well as increase the resale value of your property should you ever decide to sell.”

Replacing wooden window and door frames with aluminium frames can also help with the home’s insulation and, while this can also be an expensive move, the new features may greatly improve your home’s overall appeal to future buyers.

Ultimately, he encourages homeowners to find eco-friendly ways to cool down their homes this summer by relying less on electricity-driven cooling solutions.

“Upgrading a home’s insulation is probably one of the best ways to create a more comfortable and energy-efficient home during the summer months while also reducing your energy bills and environmental impact.”

Keep your home cool without spending a fortune

If you have a limited budget, however, Goslett shares these pocket-friendly ways to help keep your home cool:

1. Purchase a few quick-fix solutions, such as portable fans and blackout curtains.

2. For the rooms that receive the most direct sunlight, plant trees or shrubs outside the windows to create some extra shade.

3. Swap out your current bedding for summer sheets and linen made from more breathable materials.

4. Invest in ceiling fans as they are cheaper than air-conditioning units and can offer better airflow than free-standing fans.

5. Prepare for load shedding: Hot summer nights can be very long without a fan, so consider battery-powered options or purchase a UPS that the fan can be plugged into.

To give you even more affordable ideas to keep your home cool this summer, IOL has done some digging to find some other great ideas and suggestions:

6. Make sure your ceiling fans are spinning the right way: Setting your fans to spin counter-clockwise will allow them to push air down and create a breeze on hot summer days.

When it comes to ceiling fans, budgetdumpster.com advises that you:

– Keep them clean. Dust and dirt can heat the motor, causing the fans to spin slower

– Polish the blades as this will help reduce drag and improve their ability to move air. To do this, remove the blades and wipe them down with a damp cloth. Then, dry and coat them with a light furniture or metal polish, depending on the material they are made from. Reinstall them when completely dry

– Get rid of any wobbling by fixing or replacing loose screws. If your fans wobble they will not be able to effectively generate cool air

7. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, you could install a box fan in a window or put a standing fan in front of an open window as the spinning blades will draw in the cooler evening air and disseminate it in your room. Other open windows will allow any warm air in the room to escape. (idea courtesy of budgetdumpster.com)

8. As an alternative to buying blackout curtains, you could invest in window blinds that you can use all year round – in summer, keep them closed to limit the amount of sunlight and heat coming into your home as well as prevent cool air inside from escaping.

9. Don’t use your oven. Rather, cook your meals on the stove-top or in a slow cooker. Better still, enjoy more braais.

10. Switch to LED light bulbs as these emit less heat than incandescent bulbs. As a bonus, they also use less energy.

11. Check your windows and doors for sunlight coming in through cracks or spaces, and then use polyurethane caulk to seal them. This sealant is paintable and won’t attract dust. Attaching weather-stripping to a door is a simple DIY job. Self-adhesive weather stripping is great for insulating casement, metal, and vinyl-clad windows. (idea courtesy of budgetdumpster.com)

12. Just like planting trees outside windows will create shade and block direct sunlight, you could also install awnings as these will produce the same effect – although could be a little more pricey.

13. Similarly, you could add tinted window film to your windows as this will minimise the effects of radiant heat and UV light.

Bonus ideas: Fun ways to sleep easy in the summer heat

14. Put your pyjamas in the freezer. Just like warming them up before bed will help you feel toasty in winter, this unique – albeit a little strange – hack will cool the start of your evening rest.

15. Freeze a hot water bottle or go to sleep with ice-packs that are wrapped in cloth or material to keep you cool, but dry. Ice packs placed on pulse points, such as your wrists, back of your knees, or temples, can reduce your body temperature.

16. Take a cold shower before bed. Even just a quick one will drop your body temperature.

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