This past July broke heat records all across the U.S. While much of the country experienced a brief spell of relief during the early part of this month, forecasters say the end of August is likely to see temperatures soaring again.
So BILLSHARK wants to offer a few ideas for how to stay cool without busting your utility budget.
- Keep the heat out
The best way to stay cool and save money is to not allow the heat into your home in the first place. Start by using thermal curtains, blinds, and drapes that can block out the sun, and keep them closed when the sun is shining through the window. Solar heat can increase the temperature inside the home by as much as 20 degrees.
- Protect your windows
Did you know you can buy solar-blocking (mesh-like) window screens that save you as much as 15 percent on your heating bill? Or, if you don’t have screens on your home, you can also install an inexpensive solar film on your windows that allows you to see out but keeps the heat from entering.
- Minimize appliance use
Besides solar heating, the most obvious source of added heat in the home is the oven. Avoid using it and the stove on hot days; opt instead for the microwave, the grill, or cold meals. This goes for the clothes dryer and the dishwasher, both of which will add heat and humidity to the house. Consider line-drying clothes if you have the option, and turn off the dishwasher’s heated drying option.
If you must use heat-producing appliances, try to do so in the early mornings or late evenings when outdoor temperatures are cooler.
Incandescent light bulbs emit 90 percent of their energy in heat. Switch to LED or CFL light bulbs. And turn off such electronic devices as televisions, desktop computers, and video gaming systems when not in use. They not only gobble electricity but add heat to a room.
- Control humidity
Baths and long, hot showers add humidity to the house, which will hold heat and make your air conditioner work harder. Skip baths on hot days, take cooler showers and try to keep them as short as possible. Also, use bathroom and kitchen fans to vent the humidity outdoors, but turn them off as soon as you’re done in the rooms to avoid venting cool air to the outside.
- Look for leaks
Seal window and door cracks to prevent hot air from seeping into your home. Add caulk or window stripping to any leaks you find. And be sure your attic is properly insulated to prevent heat from entering through the roof.
- Become a fan of fans
You know you feel cooler on hot days when there’s a breeze. That’s because any type of air movement helps evaporate perspiration and humidity from the skin, and immediately cools the body.
Use ceiling fans running counterclockwise to circulate the air in a room. They cost less than a penny per hour to use, and can drop the temperature as much as 10 degrees in a room. Standing fans in various rooms will also make you feel cooler because they move the air around and help to cool your skin, but they typically use a tenth of the electricity of an air conditioner.
- Take command of your thermostat
Install and use a programmable thermostat to raise the temperature a bit while you’re gone. When you’re home, try keep the temperature as high as you can while still feeling comfortable (the U.S. Department of Energy recommends 78 degrees).
- Baby your air conditioner
Vacuum registers regularly, and clean or change air filters at least once a month. Be sure to keep obstructions away from the outside unit to ensure proper ventilation. This includes plants, patio furniture, leaves, or other debris And schedule regular maintenance checks for your HVAC system.
- Keep your cool
If you dress in light-colored shorts and tank tops, wear sandals or go barefoot, and stay out of the sun as much as possible, you can stay cooler, even if your thermostat is set higher. Spend more time on cooler, lower floors if possible, including the basement, if you have one.
- Get wet when you can
If it gets too warm to be comfortable, try taking cool showers or baths. Or just wash your hands (you’re doing that a lot these days already, right?) under cold water. You don’t need hot water to kill the coronavirus: Any type of soap will loosen it from the skin, and any water temperature will rinse it away. Running cold water on your wrists will also cool you quickly, as will a wet washcloth on your neck.
Need extra cash? BILLSHARK can find it for you. Let us review your bills, because it costs you nothing unless we’re able to save you money.