How To Keep Your Cool While Saving Money
As temperatures set record highs around the world, electric bills are predictably on the rise, smashing people’s yearly budgets in a matter of months. It’s all well and good to counsel people to turn up their thermostats, but if it’s so hot that you can’t function, what are you going to do? In addition, heat kills more than 600 people every year in the United States, so effective cooling in the hottest summer months is a necessity.
Therefore, Billshark has a few ideas for you on how to save money without melting in the process.
- Keep the heat out
The best way to stay cool 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.
Seal window and door cracks to prevent hot air from leaking into your home. The easiest way to check for unseen leaks is to light a stick of incense and move it around the frames of doors and windows on a windy day. If the smoke blows toward you, that signals a leak. 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.
Many people open the doors and windows in the morning to air out the house, but if you do that, it will take far more energy to cool the house afterward. Not only does the carpeting and furniture absorb heat, even the walls will become warm, so it will take far more energy to cool down the house later to a comfortable temperature. In addition, air conditioning works by lowering humidity inside the home, so the minute you open the the house, it will gain additional humidity. Install and use a programmable thermostat to raise the temperature a bit while you’re gone, and when you’re home, try keep the temperature as high as you can while still being comfortable (the U.S. Department of Energy recommends 78 degrees).
- Don’t add to heat already there
Besides solar heating, the most obvious source of added heat in the home is the oven. Avoid using it on hot days. Use the microwave, or an outdoor grill to prepare meals. Using the cooktop range is better than using the oven, but still adds heat to the house. Try checking the numerous recipe sites on the Internet for meals that don’t require cooking.
Other appliances that will add heat to the home include the dishwasher and dryer. Consider air drying both clothes and dishes. Baths and long showers will 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.
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.
- Get the most from your air conditioner
Vacuum registers regularly, and clean or change air filters at least once a month. Be sure to keep obstructions, including plants, patio furniture, leaves, or other debris away from the outside unit to ensure proper ventilation. And schedule regular maintenance checks for your HVAC system.
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.
And while you’re saving money on cooling, let our sharks check out your other bills to find hidden savings.