Keep Your House Cool Without Breaking the Bank
It’s almost summertime and as the mercury rises, we turn up the dial on our air conditioning, turn on all the fans, and if it’s really hot we stick ourselves in an icebox or at least we to do anything to cool off. Then at the end of the month, we end up with that horribly high electric bill that makes our jaws drop to the floor. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years.
Remember the hotter it is the harder your air conditioner is going to have to work to keep your house cool. More energy means more money. Even though it may be counter-intuitive keep your thermostat at a higher temperature such as 78 degrees instead of 75. It’s only a few degrees difference but it will make a difference on your next bill.
If you’re not home during the day, keep your thermostat at 80 degrees and turn it back down when you get home. This will conserve energy, money, and keep your home cooler on those hot sweltering triple-digit summer days. As a tip, you can upgrade your regular thermostat to an automatic programable one that can remember your heating and cooling habits for you.
If you haven’t already done so clean or replace your air filters. Clogged air filters can cost you 10% or more on your electric bill per month because it makes your air conditioner work harder. If you're using your air conditioner regularly you may need to do this monthly.
Portable Air Conditioning Units
The nice thing about the portable units is that you only have to cool one room. On those particularly hot days, you can pile into one room, watch your favorite movie or tv show in relative comfort while the rest of the house is hot. Plus, they can be rolled around to whatever room you need them in.
The other great thing about these units is that many of them can be put on a timer. So, if you just want it to cool down your bedroom to make it comfortable to sleep. You set the timer for one hour or so walk away and come back to a much more comfortable room. Many also come with a dehumidifier and a fan so you can use them without the A/C part which will save you energy and money.
Keep in mind that while they can save you money on cooling with these units, they do use a considerable amount of energy so if you want to have multiple units in your home, you might want to look into upgrading to have a central cooling unit instead. It will cost less in the long run.
Ceiling Fans are a great way to cool a room without breaking the bank. They only use about the same energy as a 100-watt bulb and they can make a room feel about 8 degrees cooler. Just remember to make the fans go counterclockwise in the summer as it will push the cool air down and clockwise in the winter as it will pull air up.
There are also your floor and table fans. If you position these in the right way you can keep a nice breeze flowing throughout your room. Keep in mind, however that you don’t need them on in the rooms your not using.
Extra Energy Saving Tips
Keep windows and curtains/blinds closed in the day. Then in the evening open your windows to allow the warmer air to be released outside. This can cut your cooling costs by almost 30%.
This may seem logical, but close vents to rooms seldom used, such as a guest bedroom. There’s really no point in cooling a room your not going to be in.
Another tip is to make sure that all of your exterior doors and windows are properly sealed. This can be done with weather-stripping, spray foam if the gap is really bad, and caulking.
There is a lot you can do outside your home to keep it cool.
If you don’t have enough of a roof overhang, you can shield windows with outdoor awnings. A pull-down one attached to your roofline can work almost as well as a wooden structure. We had a pull-down cloth awning that drastically improved the temperature of our west-facing apartment back in the day exponentially. This also has the added benefit of blocking UV rays from damaging your pictures and furnishings.
Trees. Yes, I said Trees. Have you ever walked under a tree and felt instantly cooler on a hot day? Trees are fantastic at providing shade. With shade comes cooler temperatures and breezes. If you have room, plant trees around your home. Be practical with this one of course. You don’t want to plant trees so close to your home that it uproots your plumbing or worse. You also don’t want to pick trees that are not practical for the area that you live in. With that said a few strategically planted trees that can block the sun from our windows are great for keeping our houses cooler as well as providing needed oxygen for our environment. Trees also clean the air of pollutants so there is the added benefit of cleaner air.
Anything such as a computer, TVs, tablets generate heat so keep them off when not in use. Besides when was the last time you and your family didn’t use an electronic device? Go use the time to sit under the trees and cool off with some of the ice-cold lemonade or ice tea and enjoy the summer.
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