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14 Ways To Lower Your Cooling Costs This August & Other Beat The Summer Heat Tips

Updated: Jul 28

Many of us are already longing for the cooler temperatures Autumn brings to Virginia and August hasn't even arrived yet. Here is a quick look at average August temperatures in the Commonwealth by city:

City

Average High in ° F

Average Low in ° F

Abingdon

84

61

Arlington

88

60

Blacksburg

81

60

Charlottesville

86

66

Danville

89

66

Fredericksburg

87

66

Galax

81

60

Harrisonburg

84

62

Hot Springs

80

59

Lynchburg

85

63

Newport News

87

68

Norfolk

87

72

Norfolk

87

72

Petersburg

86

64

Richmond

88

68

Roanoke

87

66

Staunton

83

62

Suffolk

85

69

Williamsburg

87

69

Winchester

84

64

Lower Your Cooling Costs

Photo of old fashioned green fan resting on white trunk with San Sebastian poster in background resting on white paneled wall from Wayfair.com
Photo courtesy of wayfair.com

With the right insulation, window coverings, smart devices, and more, you can stay comfortable and protect your belongings for less money this August.


Programmable Thermostat

The ideal summer temperature in Virginia is 78° F. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature a few degrees higher for when you aren’t there and save on energy. You don’t want to turn it off or go too high, however. Your furniture, carpets, and curtains hold heat. If you allow the air to get too warm, it takes more energy to cool it and your belongings down.


And while we’re on thermostats, don’t place any electronics, lamps, or appliances near your thermostat. These items give off heat and can signal your AC to turn on when it isn’t needed.


Keep your HVAC or Window Units in Top Shape

Have your air-conditioning units regularly serviced to keep them running at maximum efficiency. Twice yearly visits will help in both seasons, and changing out filters every month will keep the unit from drawing more power than needed.


Sun-Shade Screens

Sun-shade screens, or solar screens, are usually installed on the outside of your windows and act to block out heat and light. They look like insect screens but are made in varying densities to suit your needs.

Grey and white striped awning shading an outdoor dining table with chairs on hot summer day

Awnings Window and deck/patio awnings can cool surface and air temperatures in and around your home considerably. Patio umbrellas can help as well by limiting reflective heat.


Shades and Curtains

Closing window shades and curtains on hot sunny days can help keep inside temperatures lower. Curtains with light-colored lining reflect heat better.


For particularly sunny windows, many homeowners are hanging affordable solar blankets in their windows to block the afternoon sun. Acting like the sunscreens you would use in your car window, these blankets will reflect the light and heat away from the house and can keep a room cooler by an average7-8° F.


Seal Windows, Doors, and Ducts

Expensive, cooled air can leak from gaps around your windows, doors, and ductwork. Inspect these and fill in where needed with caulk or weatherstripping.


Attic Insulation

After sealing any leaks or holes in your attic into your home (look around exhaust pipes and wiring), add insulation according to the Department of Energy’s recommendations.


Close up of White Crepe Myrtle blooms against blue summer sky on hot summer day

Trees

As long as trees and limbs are not a threat to your roof or siding, a strategically placed tree can block out afternoon rays can help keep your energy costs down. Deciduous trees that will allow light through in the winter are a bonus for helping your home stay warm in cold months. For example, Natchez Crepe Myrtle grows to a height of 25′ to 30′ with thin branches. It blooms mid-summer and offers wonderful shade for 9 months of the year. The bark is also a beautiful bonus. If you let the tree grow naturally, it will thrive and provide year-round enjoyment.


Fans

Fans won’t cool air temperature, but they will act to create a wind chill when blowing on your skin and evaporating moisture. Ceiling fans should be set to run counter-clockwise.


Attic Fan

Install an attic fan to create air circulation in your attic by forcing out stifling hot air and bringing in cooler outside air. Though hot air rises, moist hot air can fall through gaps and heat your ceilings and drywall, heating the inside air. These fans should be set between 100 and 110 degrees to turn on and stay on until the temperature drops.


Don’t Cook, Clean, or Dry Clothes During the Day

It is better to wait until the sun has gone down to dry your clothes, run your dishwasher, vacuum, cook a meal, or even take a shower. The activities add heat and moisture to the air and can make your AC system work harder.


Grill Outdoors

Rather than heat up your kitchen, do your meal prep outdoors in the early evening. For tips on keeping your home and yourself safe while grilling, click here.


Exhaust Fans

If you have to take a shower during the day, be sure to run the exhaust fan to remove the moisture in the air. Otherwise, don’t run any fans that will draw the cool air from inside your house to the outside.


Lights

Incandescent bulbs put out heat, so leave lights off if you still have some in your sockets. If you are using newer energy-efficient bulbs, they still put out some heat, but not as much. If you can leave lights off, however, that will help with your energy usage, and some health experts say that the darkness can help you feel cooler.


Rooms & Doors

Open vents halfway in unused rooms and keep the doors closed. This way, your AC is focused on the spaces you use.

If you find yourself Without AC, Focus on your Body and Not the Air Temperature

  • Freeze Your Sheets – This is an oddball way of staying cool, but if you find yourself without air conditioning, it is one way to help you cool off so you can get to sleep. Put your sheets in the freezer for two hours before bedtime, put them on your bed and enjoy.

  • Stay Hydrated – There’s nothing like a glass of ice tea on a hot day to cool down your body. To make your tea, try putting the tea bags in a jar out in the sun rather than using your stove or microwave.

  • Put Ice in your Hot Water Bottle and Create a “Chillow.”

  • Put your feet in an ice bath.

  • Take a cool shower (remember to turn on your bath exhaust fan to remove the moisture in the air).

Heat and Your Belongings


Other than comfort, heat can harm many of your belongings over time. Here are eight common items that can lose value and usefulness when exposed to August temperatures.

Painting by Sally Rosenbaum (1949-      ) of young girl in profile in sunhat, white shirt, and skirt staying cool in the heat of summer. FROM EBTH.com

Works of Art

Paintings can fade and even melt in hot summer temperatures. They should never be stored in garages or attics whe