Easy ways to spend less money cooling your house this summer
When the sweltering heat of summer hits its peak, you’ll be tempted to run your air conditioning nonstop. Doing so causes your electricity bill to skyrocket, unfortunately. Unless you want your bank account to drain all season, follow these techniques to save energy while staying cool this summer.
Although fans don’t actually lower the temperature of a room, they do make you feel cooler by blowing air over your skin. Take advantage of the ceiling fans in your house and use those instead of the air conditioning. Alaina Wibberly of Smart Energy explains, “A good fan will allow you to raise your thermostat 4° while maintaining the same level of comfort. If you don’t mind the light breeze, go ahead and lower the temperature on your AC because fans can be very effective.”
Make sure the ceiling fan is spinning in the direction that blows air down toward you instead of drawing it away. If you don’t have ceiling fans, you can either install them (simple models are relatively cheap) or use box or window fans. You can use those to draw in cool air from outside in the evenings or push warm air outside during the day.
Cooking on the stove and heating up the oven introduces an abundance of heat into your already toasty home and also uses lots of electricity. When you cook during summer, minimize your use of these appliances as much as possible. Cook outside as much as you can on the grill, and stick to preparing cold and room temperature foods in your kitchen (think: salad, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and sandwiches). If you must use an oven, consider utilizing a compact toaster oven or investing in a fast-working pressure cooker.
Block the Sun
Letting the sun shine through your home’s windows creates a greenhouse effect that traps heat inside and raises the temperature. To avoid this, keep the blinds drawn on the side of the house that has direct sunlight hitting it. If you're gone for the day, draw the blinds everywhere.
Light-blocking curtains are especially good at keeping the sun out. If you have large bay windows without blinds or curtains, you can temporarily drape or tape bed sheets across them.
Why waste the electricity running your heat-producing dryer when you could naturally dry your clothes in the sun’s heat? Dry them the old-fashioned way on a line in your yard or a rack in your sunroom.
If you’re worried about the sun fading your clothes, you have options. Turn the clothes inside out, which protects exterior prints and patterns and makes fading less noticeable. Position the darker items behind or inside lighter ones so the sun doesn’t shine directly on the dark items. You can also put the clothes under the shade of a canopy or awning, and the heat will still dry the clothes.
The same goes for your dishwasher: Skip the drying cycle. Either hand-dry dishes as you put them away, or let evaporation do the work for you.
Quick, Easy Ways to Cool Off
Instead of relying on the air conditioning or circulation fans to cool down, there are many other ways you can bring your body relief during the summer. Claire Maldarelli of Popular Science suggests effective practices like wearing loose, breezy clothing that let your body naturally cool; apply cold packs at “pulse points,” such as your neck and wrists; and drink cold water constantly, which also lets your body cool off by sweating. You can also rinse yourself in a cold shower, and you should avoid exercising, which causes your body to heat up.
You don’t have to pay a lot of money during summer to stay cool if you avoid creating more heat, find smart ways to cool off and use the heat to your advantage.