Jul 22, 2018

Three tips for keeping the house cool in summer

You’ve seen the news. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ve read about it. If you live here, you’ve felt it. This summer has been sweltering. I mean, we didn’t even get a decent rainy season (shortest in decades, if memory serves) before entering the scorching hot and humid period.

In this kind of summer, you have to take every step possible to try to beat the heat. That’s not exactly easy when you live in a place like ours, which is pretty standard for a Japanese home built in the 80s. No central air (I’ve yet to come across a place that does have central air in this country), only wall-mounted a/c units in the tatami room and master bedroom. The insulation is also somehow magical in the sense that it always lets out all the heat in winter, but somehow traps it all inside in the summer. 

Lots of folks have tips and tricks for keeping your house cooler in the hot climate, but allow me to offer my top three:

Dehumidifiers: you gotta try to tackle the humidity somehow. We keep dehumidifiers in the most heavily trafficked rooms that do not have a/c units. First of all, it helps prevent mold/mildew from growing, and second, it keeps the room a bit cooler by eliminating some of that sticky humidity. The one thing to keep in mind is that many dehumidifiers (like ours) produce a small amount of hot air as exhaust, so you have to try to counteract that with air flow.

Air flow: since the insulation in the house traps the heat, it’s best to keep the air flowing. We keep vent fans on (like over the stove and in the bathrooms), and ensure that at least two windows are open in the middle of the day to allow for proper air flow. Also, it’s good to get a few cheap, small fans to place in rooms to assist with keeping the air moving (with the fans, less fancy, more energy efficient is better!)

Cooking early: 

Three tips for keeping the house cool in summer photo

My kids like to wake up with the sun, no matter how blacked out their rooms may be (they’re like little pioneers with their body clocks). Since we get up at the crack of dawn anyway, I try to knock out a few chores before the heat sets in. That means doing some cooking early. I can’t necessarily prepare a full day’s worth of meals, but I can get a decent amount cooked and into plastic containers before the kids are done with breakfast. You’d be surprised how hot cooking midday can make your house (I learned the hard way when I tried to roast pumpkin in the middle of the afternoon and almost gave my family heat exhaustion), so I find that knocking out the dishes that require high, sustained heat early in the morning is the best way to go.

Do you have any other tips for keeping your house cool?  I’m always looking for ways to be the heat—feel free to use the comments section below!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).