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Keep your cool

August 4, 2009

The dog days of summer have finally arrived, bringing hot and humid weather.  For those not fortunate enough to have air-conditioned homes or apartments, using proper ventilation too-hot_246techniques and cutting back on the use of lights and electrical appliances can help “beat the heat,” says Steven Ridenour, professor of mechanical engineering at Temple.

“Whether you live in a house or an apartment, open the windows at night to allow cooler air in,” says Ridenour.  “In the morning, close everything up and keep it closed until it starts to feel uncomfortable.  Then use open windows and a fan to pull the air through.”

Ridenour says people want to draw air into the lowest part of the house and exhaust it through the highest part of the dwelling. “Opening a basement window or door helps draw cooler air up through the house.  If that’s not an option, opening the lower doors and windows on the shady–or least sunny–side of the house will suffice.”

Since warm air rises, Ridenour says a fan can be used on the upper floors of the house to blow the warm air out and keep the cooler air circulating.  He suggests using a box-type multi-speed window fan, “as large as will fit in the window.” Keeping windows and doors closed, except where bringing air in and exhausting it out, will also help facilitate air flow, as will closing off any rooms not in use.

Apartment dwellers should open windows on opposite sides to create a “cross flow” of air, he says, and suggests, if possible, using fans to pull air from the shadier side of the apartment building and exhausting it out the sunnier side.

Ridenour says indoor heat can also be reduced by using blinds, shades or paper to block out the sun coming through windows, especially ones that face west. He also recommends turning off unnecessary lights and minimizing the use of electrical appliances during the day since they generate heat, while cooking during the earlier part of the day and using an exhaust fan to help pull heat out of the kitchen also helps.

Finally, if all else fails to cool you off, get out of the house and go to an air-conditioned place like a mall, library, or grocery store for an hour or two each day, Ridenour suggests. “That little bit of additional relief can make a really big difference.”

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