How Hot is Too Hot?

Welcome back to our special “Staying Cool.”

We’re going to wrap up today’s show with a look at your home, your air conditioning and – your air conditioning bill!

When you go to rip open that air conditioning bill this month, you might realize just how much this heat wave recently has cost you in cooling your home. Air conditioning bills can really take a chunk out of your wallet and you may be tempted to penny pinch, even at the sake of your own comfort. What’s the harm in keeping your home really hot or even turning the AC off completely while you’re away?


Just like you need to be careful to not overheat yourself in the summer months, you don’t want to risk overheating your home either. Too much heat and humidity in a home can cause a lot of damage.

When things get too hot, your hardwood floors and furniture can actually start to warp or crack. Molds and mildew can start to grow. Excessive heat in a home can also prove breeding grounds for dust mites … your allergies won’t appreciate that. Your paint can start to bubble. Your electronics can start to malfunction. Artwork can start to dry out. Appliances can stick. And what’s that smell? … Your home may take on a displeasing odor.

One place in your home that will likely be the hottest: Your attic.

An excessively hot attic can actually shorten the lifespan of your roof and shingles. Some home inspectors say an attic should be no more than TWENTY degrees warmer than it is outside. You might want to have a thermometer in your attic to monitor its temperature and see if you need to look into installing an attic fan or extra insulation to beat the heat.

You not only want to monitor the temperature in your home, but also make sure the humidity doesn’t get too high either.

Too much humidity in a home can get trapped in corners and closed areas. You might really start to see problems in bathrooms with mildew cropping up. Be sure to use the ceiling exhaust fan in the bathroom after hot showers and baths, which will zap the moisture out of your home. Another sign of too much humidity in a home: The wooden frames of your windows may start to rot.

If your home is too humid, look into purchasing a dehumidifier.

In really warm and dry climates, some people recommend placing five-gallon buckets of water around the home while you’re away on vacation. The water slowly evaporates and adds moisture to the indoor air to prevent it getting too dry, which can also cause damage to your home and furniture.

To get your home cooler, also remember to close all the drapes and blinds during the day to help keep that sun from burning into your home and making it even hotter.

And all this begs the question … how hot is too hot for your home anyway?

Well, that depends.

There’s no universal temperature recommended for thermostats. That will depend on your home, how efficiently it uses energy, the direction the sun points into your home, and your comfort level. A setting that may be too hot for one home, may be just right for another.

With that said, Consumer Reports once polled utility companies and home owners to find that 78 degrees Fahrenheit tended to be the ideal setting for many peoples air conditioning thermostats. They found that your AC won’t have to work quite as hard and you can still save money on your utility bills at that temperature.

When you’re away, you may increase that a little … some recommend 85 degrees or so.

According to Consumer Reports, every degree warmer you set your thermostat, you can save about TWO percent in your utility bills. So as you look at your AC bill this month, it might be tempting to rise the mercury inside a few notches to get that savings. But just make sure you aren’t damaging your home while you’re saving.

Plus, excessive heat not only can damage your home, but it can also harm you. Just like with your home, be careful not to overheat. It can be deadly. Stay safe, and stay cool…

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