9 Hidden Sources Of Heat In Your Home

Is your house hotter than it needs to be?

August 12, 2016
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Just because it’s miserably hot outside doesn’t mean you need to be sweating inside. Hidden sources of heat may be causing the temperature to rise unnecessarily. Figure out where the heat is coming from and keep your house cool with these tips.

Related: What Southerners Taught Us About Keeping Houses Cool

light bulbs
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Light Bulbs

Turning off the lights when it’s hot out isn’t just a mental fix. If you’ve ever touched an incandescent bulb while it’s on, you know that light bulbs can get very hot. Incandescent bulbs emit 90 percent of their energy through heat, and only 10 percent as light. Keep lights off during the day and switch bulbs to LEDs or CFLs. You will not only stay cooler, but you will also use75-80 percent less energy on lights.

kids in the kitchen
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Kitchen Appliances

Opening the dishwasher after a load is finished can feel a lot like a hot facial steam. But the dishwasher isn’t the only appliance that heats things up in the kitchen. The refrigerator pulls heat out of the food inside and blows it straight into the room (here's how to organize your fridge to save energy).

To stay cool in the kitchen, do chores at night or first thing in the morning. Wait for the dishwasher to be full so you run it less and make the extra heat and energy worth it. Cool all food to room temperature before putting it in the fridge so it doesn’t have to work as hard. Also, keep your fridge relatively full and open the door as little as possible to help the food stay cold.

Related: 10 Easy Ways To Make Your Kitchen More Energy Efficient

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Oven

It’s no secret that the oven emits lots of heat, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat out for months. On hot days cook on the stovetop, grill outside, or use a small toaster oven. Summer is also a great time for raw or cold meals (like these tasty, no-cook options). When there's no alternative to the stove or oven, be sure to turn on the range fan to help move heat out of the house.

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Electronics

While it may be tempting to lounge in front of the TV when it’s sweltering, you’re actually making it even hotter. Computers, gaming consoles, speakers, the cable box, and other electronics all produce heat. Turn off unused electronics during the hottest part of the day. Use a powerstrip to make sure that electronics are completely off and not running in the background. Try to avoid using a dehumidifier or only use it during the coolest parts of the day since it generates heat when it pulls the moisture out of the air.

indoor plant
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Windows

You can’t beat the wonderful summer sunlight, but windows are responsible for 30 percent or more of unwanted heat. Stop the greenhouse effect by shading windows with awnings, screens, overhangs, or trees. For less permanent shading, close blinds or shades during the day. You can also apply a thin film to your window that deflects infrared heat and protects furniture and flooring from fading, but these films will also prevent helpful heat in the winter. Upgrading to double pane windows can also help keep the heat out.

Related: How To Wash Your Windows Like A Pro

 
 
hot knob
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Uninsulated Hot Water Pipes + Heaters

Hot water pipes can radiate heat into your home if they aren’t insulated properly. Adding insulation to your pipes will not only help prevent excess heat, it will also save you energy, help conserve water, and raise the temperature of your hot water.

The same is true for an uninsulated or poorly insulated hot water heater. Insulating your hot water heater can prevent 25-45 percent of the heat it leaks into the room. Even if your hot water heater tank is already insulated, if it’s warm to the touch it needs more insulation. You don’t have to be a contractor—or hire one—to fix the problem. The U.S. Department of Energy has handy tutorials for insulating your hot water heater and pipes.

Related: 10 Houseplants You Hardly Ever Have To Water

shower
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Shower

Shower in the morning or take a cool shower before bed to help you sleep and to avoid adding more heat to the house. Don’t forget to open windows or turn on the bathroom fan to remove heat and humidity.

Related: 6 Things That Happened When I Stopped Showering

attic
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Uninsulated Attic Or Roof

The hot sun relentlessly beats down on the roof and can raise the temperature in an attic to a sweltering 150 degrees. Adding insulation to the attic or roof can keep the house cool throughout the day. Leaky access panels and ceiling vents can also allow hot air into the house. Be sure your attic has an air-sealed opening and consider insulating the attic to at least R-30 (the higher the R-value of your insulation, the more heat it can resist).

 
 
window
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Gaps

All of the gaps around doors and windows in the average American house add up to the equivalent of a three-foot by three-foot hole in the wall according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That’s a lot of space for heat to come streaming in.

Seal up leaks with caulk and weather stripping. Look for gaps by outdoor water faucets, around chimneys, and around all doors and windows. Inside, check all electrical outlets, baseboards, fireplaces, attic hatches, and anywhere that pipes, vents, or wires pass through walls. Seal up the mail slot and opt for a outdoor mailbox instead. Not only will you be more comfortable in the hottest parts of the year, you will save more than 40 percent of heat in the winter.

Related: Is It Better To Leave Your A/C On All Day Or Turn It Off?