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Heat hacks: 12 tips and tricks to keep your house cool

Feeling hot, hot, hot in Boston
WATCH: Meteorologist Dave Epstein on the hot and humid weather and tips on how to stay cool.

With temperatures expected to reach into the 90s through Saturday, you’ll need to do everything you can to stay cool. We’ve compiled some tips on how to beat the heat and keep your home as cool as possible during the hot and humid weather.

1. Chill out at night.

If you’re tossing and turning in bed and having trouble falling asleep in the blistering heat, Consumer Reports offers this interesting trick: Put your sheets and pillowcases in a sealable plastic bag and stash them in the freezer so they’ll be nice and cold when you hit the hay.


2. Makeshift AC.

You’ve probably heard about the trick of putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan. Well, the New York State Office for the Aging suggests using bottles of water instead. “Fill three plastic soda bottles full of water, freeze them but in a manner to not damage them (liquid expands on freezing), then place them in a large bowl,” the agency’s website states. “Position a fan to blow on them.. ... The water in the bottles can be refrozen and used repeatedly.”

3. Creative use of your fridge.

Seattle City Light suggests putting lotion and moisturizers in your fridge to cool down your skin.

4. Strategic placement of window fans.

The Department of Energy says that window fans are best used in windows facing away from the prevailing wind and exhausting hot air from your home. “To cool as much of your home as possible, tightly close windows near the fan and open windows in rooms far from the fan,” the DOE website states. “In multi-level houses, the fan should be located on the upper level, if possible, and the open windows should be located on a lower level.”


5. Use ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans help circulate the air through the room. According to the Department of Energy, if you use air conditioning and a ceiling fan, you should be able to raise your thermostat setting about 4 degrees and still be comfortable.

6. Keep the heat out.

When the mercury rises to uncomfortable levels outside, your best bet is to close your windows and exterior doors to keep the heat out of your home, according to the Department of Energy. Seal cracks and openings around doors and windows with caulk or weather stripping to prevent hot air from leaking in. But here’s the key: Get cool air into your home at night by opening up your windows after the sun goes down and the mercury drops.

7. Unplug.

Unplug electronic devices that you’re not using. Even if they’re not powered on, they may still be using electricity and giving off heat.

8. Window treatments work.

The Department of Energy recommends closing the shades and curtains on your windows on summer days — especially the ones that receive direct sunlight. “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33 percent,” the DOE website states. Another pro tip: Hang curtains as close to the window as possible.

9. Reflect heat back outside.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests putting aluminum foil-covered cardboard between your windows and drapes to reflect heat back outside.

10. Install awnings.

Window awnings can reduce the solar heat that enters your home by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows, according to the DOE website.


11. The best way to set your thermostat.

If you’re lucky enough to have central air conditioning, the Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home and want to stay cool. “Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner,” the DOE website states. “It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.”

12. Maintain your air conditioner.

To keep your AC unit running in tip-top shape, the Department of Energy recommends replacing the filters every one to two months — a clean filter can lower the air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 percent to 15 percent. And remember to check the air conditioner’s fins. “Are the fins on your evaporator or condenser coils bent? If so, they may be blocking airflow,” the DOE website states. “Look for a ‘fin comb’ at an air conditioning wholesaler to get them bent back into shape.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.