12 Money-Saving Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat
We’ve all seen the articles about winterizing your home. They’re useful, but I often read those and think, but what about the summer?
It gets pretty darn hot here in the summer, and “summer” normally lasts from about early May (when we first hit 100) until about mid-October. For us, winter is the time of low energy use, and summer is the time of astronomical energy bills. I know there’s a whole swath of the US that’s like this. But even if summer isn’t that way for you, every little bit of savings helps!
Here are 12 tips to help you beat the summer heat and save energy — leaving more money in your pocket in the process.
1. Check your house for leaks.
Cracks around your windows & doors are some of the biggest culprits for high energy use. Consider replacing older windows & doors with well-fitting energy-efficient versions. If that isn’t possible, seal the cracks around them with weatherstripping. There are a couple of easy ways to check for leaks. You can turn on the lights inside your house at night, and then go outside and see if you see light appearing around the edges of your windows and doors. If you have a partner, you can take some incense and burn it near the edges. If the smoke seeps through, you have a leak.
2. Close the flue.
If you have a fireplace, be sure the flue is closed when you’re not using it. You don’t want to send your nice cool air up the chimney.
3. Block daylight.
Install window tinting to help keep the sun’s heat out while letting the light in. If you don’t mind having the lights on, keep curtains and blinds closed during the day to help as well. Caves are cool for a reason.
4. Change or clean your air conditioner’s filter monthly.
Dirty filters make your AC work harder, which means it runs more often for longer periods, wasting energy and costing you money. No need to pay extra because the filter is dirty!
5. Maintain your air-conditioner.
Have your AC unit maintained by a reputable company BEFORE it starts to get hot. If your unit is very old and/or inefficient, consider replacing it. Rebates are often available from the utility company for this. You can also check with them to see if they offer discounts for maintenance.
6. Use a programmable thermostat.
Set it so that it’s slightly warmer in the house when you’re gone and after you’ve gone to sleep. There’s no reason to keep the house chilly when you won’t even be there (or awake) to notice it.
You can also experiment with making it one degree warmer in the house each day until you actually start to notice the difference. This is a good way to find the warmest temperature you’re comfortable with. Of course, the warmer you can stand your house, the lower your AC bill will be.
7. Avoid using the oven whenever possible.
Ovens generate a lot of heat, which makes your AC unit work harder. Plus who wants to be sweating in a hot kitchen? Prepare cold foods, or use the microwave, BBQ, or a crockpot instead. When you do use the oven, cook enough for leftovers or more than one meal at once and you’ll spend less time cooking too.
8. Wash your clothes on cold, and air-dry your clothing and dishes.
It costs extra to use hot water, and heat escaping from appliances can really heat up the house. If you can’t stand doing that, at least run your washer & dryer in the early morning before it gets light or late at night after it gets dark. Weekends are usually cheapest energy-wise, so try to save up laundry for weekend nights. (Exciting, I know.)
9. Switch to CFLs.
If you’re still using old incandescent light bulbs, consider making the switch now before they burn out. CFLs are more energy-efficient than incandescent light bulbs because more of their energy gets converted to LIGHT. Each incandescent bulb is really more like a little heater that gives off some light as a side benefit. Get rid of those little heaters and your house will be cooler. (Plus of course CFLs last longer. If you’ve tried one in the past and hated it, try one again. They’re different now, and there are many choices of light colors available.)
10. Dress appropriately.
Wear light, loose-fitting clothes at home (shorts, bare feet, and a tank top are my favorites) and bring a sweater with you when you go out (because of course shops & businesses will be freezing inside.)
11. Fan yourself.
Use personal fans or ceiling fans when you’re in the room to help feel cooler. Be sure ceiling fans are set to the right direction (usually counterclockwise) for summer.
12. Drink up.
Keep a large, insulated bottle of water with you so you can cool from the inside out. When you get hot, take a drink instead of turning up the AC. It’ll be better for both your energy bill and your body.