Prepare your home for a heat wave

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Explore individual solutions to ensure your home stays cool during a heat wave.

Make sure your home stays cool as temperatures rise to mitigate the effects of heat. Making the right investments to protect your home can not only protect you from dangerous heat illness on extremely hot days but can also help reduce your home energy bills. Being prepared will allow you and your loved ones to remain safe during extreme heat events. 

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Update insulation

Cold air escapes and hot air enters through the seams between windows, walls, and floorboards, making it challenging to keep a home cool during a heat wave. Proper insulation prevents heat transfer by keeping hot and cold atmospheres isolated from one another. Seal your windows, using double-glazed windows to prevent heat transfer, or install transparent window coverings that add to insulation. Maximize the effectiveness of your insulation and the efficiency of your home by ensuring attics are properly sealed and that you are using EPA or Energy Star-certified insulation.

Block sunlight from your windows

Sunlight shining through the windows is a major source of heat in the home. An affordable way to keep the home cool is with insulated or black-out curtains and blinds. Consider awnings or shutters if your property is in a warmer area and more frequently exposed to direct sunlight. Installing awnings or shutters over windows on the exterior of the home will shade windows to keep sunlight out during the hottest parts of the day.

Cool roofing

 A cool roof is made of materials or coatings that reflect sunlight and heat away from your home, reducing roof temperatures. Roofing materials that reflect more sunlight can stay more than 50°F cooler than conventional roofs. This makes your home cooler, increasing your comfort, reducing the amount of air conditioning needed during hot days, and saving on energy costs.

Home cooling systems

All homes generate heat from the inside which can radiate and worsen the effects of heat if not counteracted. The heat from human bodies, heat from cooking, and heat from appliances and devices all add to the heat in the home. Air conditioners are the best option to keep a home cool. If you do not already have one, consider energy-efficient units such as an inverter air conditioner or anything that has an Energy Star certification.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists low-income, at-risk families if they are unable to afford an air conditioner.

Heat removal systems

It’s important to make sure that you are moving heat away from the occupants of your home, especially during an extreme heat event. A ‘heat pump’ system works to remove hot air as it cools. To increase energy efficiency, consider installing a ‘heat pump’ system if your home is equipped with the necessary duct work for a central cooling system. 

Consider installing ceiling fans as part of your home cooling system, however, these should not be your primary source of cooling during an extreme heat event. Running ceiling fans counterclockwise pulls hot air away from the occupants of a room. 

Stock up on water 

Prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and therefore may raise daily fluid needs. The average person needs to drink about 115 ounces of fluid daily. However, the amount of water a specific individual needs depends on age, gender, health, level of activity, and climate. The National Academy of Medicine generally recommends healthy women intake 72 ounces daily and healthy men 104 ounces. Higher amounts may be needed for those who are physically active or exposed to very warm climates. Lower amounts may be needed for those with smaller body sizes. FEMA suggests preparing at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days. 

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