10 Home Improvement Ideas for a Cooler Summer

The summer months are rapidly approaching. And while that means lots of sunshine and days spent outside, summer in Chicagoland also brings sweltering temperatures and plenty of sticky humidity.

Rather than dreading the summer heat this year, what if you looked at it as an opportunity to think creatively, get active, and take on a few simple yet impactful projects around the house? Here are a few home projects that you can take on in the spring for a cooler and more relaxing summer: 

1.) Plant Some Trees and Shrubs

If a room in your home is getting too much hot direct sunlight, it might help to think from the outside in. Strategically planting trees and shrubs can create the shade you need to cool off your most-used rooms. Plant some large trees to throw shade onto your upper level windows and cool your roof, or add some tall bushes to help diffuse sunlight in front of your first-floor windows. 

2.) Change Out Your Sheets

Changing out your sheets is a quick, easy, and fun way to add some fresh decor and make your bedroom feel like new. It’s also a great way to cool off during the hottest months of the year. Try swapping out heavy and dense bedding for a more breathable and lightweight material, such as cotton or bamboo. These materials can help keep cool air circulating around your bed, all night long. 

3.) Add Some Shade

There’s nothing like taking in a summer sunset from your porch or balcony. Unfortunately, these outdoor areas can quickly become sweltering. In addition to trees and foliage, consider adding a few strategic design elements that can help create shade; this could be as simple as bringing in an outdoor table with a built-in umbrella stand, or as major as adding a pergola or trellis. You can also help create shade indoors by installing shutters or retractable awnings to the windows that get the most harsh summer sun. 

4.) Hang Some Cooling Window Coverings

Our windows let in energizing natural light and give us a much-needed glimpse of the great outdoors. Unfortunately, they can also be a major conductor of thermal energy, heating up rooms that you’d prefer to keep cool. To help mitigate the heat that gets let in by your favorite windows, consider adding some new window treatments and coverings. Hang thermal blinds or shades that can help block out the sun; light-colored curtains that can help diffuse light and trap cool air inside; or a window film that can help reduce the damaging effects of harsh sunlight. 

5.) Create an Outdoor Kitchen

Turning on the oven or stove can seem downright unbearable in the summer months. Cooking can create a ton of ambient heat that can permeate your entire home in no time. This summer, consider making a few simple additions that can help you move the meal outside. While full outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity, you could also help reduce the amount of time you need to spend running your burners and oven by simply investing in a new grill. Add some fun and functional outdoor seating and a push cart for easy al fresco service. 

6.) Add a Programmable Thermostat

Home automation can help you save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs — while keeping your space feeling cool and comfortable, day in and day out. A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically set your system to increase the temperature while you’re away, and lower the settings strategically when you’re home. Particularly sophisticated smart thermostats can even help you divide your home into zones, so that you can focus on cooling the rooms you use most. 

7.) Reset Your Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a wonderful addition to bedrooms and living rooms. In addition to adding stylish and functional flair, fans can help keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the spring and summer. If you do not have ceiling fans installed, this is a great home project to take on in the weeks leading up to the summer season. Ceiling fans can cool you off by circulating air, generally at a fraction of the cost of running an air conditioner. If you already have ceiling fans in place, now is the time to give them a quick refresh. Get rid of any accumulated dust or grime on the fan blades, and make sure that your ceiling fans are set to run counterclockwise during the warmer seasons; this helps draw cool air up and circulates it around the room more effectively. 

8.) Seal Up Leaking Windows and Doors

Air loves to leak in and out of your home through small cracks and gaps, particularly around your windows and doors. Taking some time to minimize air leakage can help to “cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment,” as the Department of Energy has explained. Take some time during the spring months to suss out leaks and seal them up with caulk or weatherstripping, as appropriate. 

9.) Look Into Energy Efficient Appliances and Lighting

Did you know that light bulbs can be a major source of ambient heat? It’s true! In fact, research suggests that incandescent-style light bulbs typically emit up to 90 percent of the energy they use as heat. In contrast, newer energy-efficient bulbs such as fluorescents and LEDs give off a lot less heat. In addition to swapping out your bulbs, now might be a great time to consider investing in energy-efficient appliances, including stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, and so on. Many modern, energy-efficient appliances use significantly less energy — and give off a lot less ambient heat — than most older models.

10.) Work on Your Home’s Exterior

Feeling outdoorsy? There are lots of impactful projects you can take on around your house to improve your property’s curb appeal — and help you stay cool inside, to boot. For instance, consider replacing your patio or deck with materials that reflect, rather than absorb, thermal energy. Adding light-colored siding and roofing can also help reflect heat, which can help your entire home feel cooler. 

When Home Means More, You Need a Team With More to Offer

Home is about so much more than just four walls. Buying or selling a home is a big deal, and with everything we experienced in 2020, our homes have never been more important. That’s why your local Baird & Warner agent is with you at every step of the way, from finding the perfect home to connecting you with local experts in mortgage and title. Whether it’s the beginning of a story or the end of a chapter, we’re here to help.