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Don’t have central air conditioning? Join the club. Luckily, we’ve discovered that there are ways to keep your home cool using common sense and good old-fashioned New England know-how, something that Massachusetts-raised real estate agent Denise Parsons is well-versed in. “Heat is something people don’t think about until summer and it hits them full-on like this,” Parsons says of last week’s heat wave. We asked Parsons to give us the lowdown on how to keep our sweltering shoeboxes, ahem, apartments cool this summer.

“There are some common sense tips for people living in apartments or for homeowners to keep their home cooler,” Parsons says. “Shut the windows and pull the blinds down during the day. Create as much shade as you can. At night, open windows for cross ventilation and strategically place fans to keep air flowing throughout the day and night. Also, putting plants on sunny window ledges helps absorb heat,” she adds.

Often there isn’t much cooling night air during a heat wave, hence the intense interior heat build-up. Deflect as much daytime hea as you can. A quick fix for windows without adequate coverage is hanging large, heavy (preferably white) bath towels in the windows — just clip them to the frame to insulate a room.

 

Homeowners who don’t want to add central air conditioning because of environmental, cost, or historical reasons should start with good insulation, which doesn’t just winterize a house — it keeps it cool in the summer too.

“Good insulation is huge,” says Parsons. “Also, create exterior shade and install awnings that you can roll up in winter. If you plant deciduous trees on the east and west side of the house, they give great shade in summer and, in winter, when the leaves are gone, they allow for warmth.”
Parsons has one more tip for staying cool: “Find a friend with a pool!” she laughs.

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