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How to make your home bearable in a heat wave

Well, that’s one way to beat the heat.

With potentially dangerous heat on the horizon as the summer months come into focus, CUB has tips on how residents can keep their homes cool, safe and energy efficient.

Remember these to stay comfortable during the dog days of summer:

Raising your thermostat by only two degrees and using a ceiling fan can lower air conditioning costs by up to 14 percent over the summer. But be smart about it—don’t raise the temperature to an unsafe level. Many utilities recommend setting your thermostat between 74-78 degrees when you’re at home.

Fans alone aren’t adequate in a heat wave, but they can be used with an air conditioner—so you don’t have to blast the AC. Run a ceiling fan counter-clockwise, from your position looking up at it, to create a downdraft, and make sure to turn off your fan when you leave the room. Remember, fans cool people, not rooms. (Note: Your fan should have a black switch that changes its direction).

Delay heat-producing tasks, such as dishwashing, baking, or laundry, until the cooler night or early morning hours. Consider grilling out to keep the kitchen from overheating and your AC from over-working. Microwaving meals also saves you from a hot kitchen.

Turn off and unplug extra appliances that produce extra heat and make your home hotter (TVs, computers, laptops, and gadgets like your phone charger).

Keep hot air out by sealing gaps around windows and doors.

Keep the blinds/curtains closed during the day to prevent the sun from roasting your home. In the cooler evenings, turn off the AC and open windows on opposite sides of the house to create a cross breeze. Put a box fan in an open window, blowing outside to push out the hot air from your home.

-Consider cleaning your AC unit’s filter once a month, but at the very least once every three months. It’s an easy way to improve the unit’s performance and save energy.

-If your AC is running, make sure to close doors to rooms you don’t use often. The smaller the space that needs cooling, the less work it takes for your system to cool it.

Drink plenty of water. A person should drink 6-8 cups of water a day—based on age, body weight, physical activity, etc. Hydrated individuals are much better equipped to deal with warm temperatures.

-If you don’t have AC, go somewhere that has air conditioning during the hottest hours of the afternoon. Movie theaters, shopping malls, public libraries, and the homes of friends and family can all be cool places of refuge. Make sure your neighbors are safe too! Illinois offers free cooling centers. For more information call the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at 1-800-843-6154 during normal business hours.

Use a spray bottle filled with cold water to take the edge off a hot afternoon. Soak your feet in cool water. Place ice cubes, wrapped in a wet fabric, on your “pulse points,” where the blood vessels are close to the skin: wrists, neck, the insides of your elbows, your inner thighs and knees, the tops of your feet and the inside of the ankles.

Sign up for Peak Time Rewards/ Peak Time Savings. Ameren and ComEd offer bill credits for being efficient during times when the power grid is most taxed, during hot summer days. Ameren’s program is called Peak Time Rewards and ComEd’s is called Peak Time Savings.

Visit CUB’s energy efficiency page for more tips on how to stay comfortable and save money this summer.