Home Hacks: Keeping The Heat Out

We may have lost a view temporarily, but at least it’s cool in here!

Summer is nearly upon us, and it’s already very hot here. The sun coming into our home’s older windows creates a greenhouse effect, which raises the temperature significantly in rooms and makes the heat pump work harder to cool them. And that means big power bills. But using an item you may already have around can keep that heat out and save money on cooling: emergency blankets.

We already use thermal (blackout) curtains on windows to help reduce the heat in hot months and keep the cold out in chilly ones. The thermal curtains do a good job, but the heat is intense enough where we live that even the thermal curtains need help. That’s where the emergency blankets come in!

The emergency blankets we use for this purpose are very thin mylar sheets. They come folded into a small rectangle, and the folds are visible when you unfold the sheet. The mylar is also a bit fragile, so care is needed when handling to avoid tearing it.

Once unwrapped, we use small strips of masking tape to hold these extremely lightweight sheets up against the inside of the windows.

The reflective tint in the mylar immediately visibly reduces the light coming through the window. Between the emergency blankets and the thermal curtains, very little heat enters the interior of our home from the windows.

Pros: inexpensive, lightweight, easy to handle and apply, reusable. Also good to have on hand in case of emergency!

Cons: made of plastic, easily torn, arguably unattractive, difficult to see through. If it’s in the budget, upgrading to more energy-efficient windows would be a better long-term solution.

We also adjust the air conditioning inside based on the time of day, to balance keeping cool with saving money. Our thermostat is programmed so that from 5:30 a.m., it’s 77 degrees; at noon, it’s 75 degrees; at 5 p.m., it’s 73 degrees; and at 9 p.m., it’s 71 degrees. The house gradually cools so that it’s coolest at night (because who can sleep when it’s hot?). We also use floor fans positioned by the air conditioning vents to help move the air around.

As the planet grows hotter, we all need to try to find ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Reducing heat entering the house from outside can help lower heating bills without sacrificing (reasonable) comfort, and it can be done on a budget!