Feeling the heat thanks to a higher electric bill? Here are nine simple ways you can keep your cooling costs down this summer.
During the hottest parts of summer, many of us devote a lot of energy each day to figuring out how to stay cool. We carry water bottles, chase shade while waiting for the bus, and blast the AC in our car. But at home, you may find yourself sweating over electric bills and trying to figure out how to keep cooling costs down.
The hike in your electric bill each summer is all thanks to the need to run your air conditioner more. But there are other ways to keep things cool in your home and your wallet. Read on to learn some tips for keeping your cooling costs down this summer.
One of the best things you can do to cool down your home and the planet at the same time is to plant trees. Most of the heat coming into your home comes from direct sunlight beating down on the roof or the windows. Shade from large, leafy trees will keep the sun off your house and reduce your cooling costs by as much as 10 percent.
There are a few factors to consider when you’re planting trees around your house. Obviously, if you have solar panels on your roof, this won’t be a good solution since you need that direct sunlight. But you should also weigh whether you want to get a smaller tree and wait for it to grow or spend more money for a larger tree and get the results you want to see now.
Even if you have trees around your house, some sunlight is still going to make it through to the windows. That sunlight beating in through the glass is going to heat up your home, no matter how insulated your windows. If you don’t believe us, check out where your cats choose to take their afternoon nap.
Putting screens on your windows can do a lot to stop the heat blasting in through your windows. Some solar screens are specially designed to block the sun’s rays from entering your home. Keep in mind, however, that they block light as well as heat, so you may have to spend more money lighting your house.
Build a Fan Base
If you have fans in your house, make sure you’re putting them to good use during the summer months. Open windows on the windward side of the house on the lower floors, and run fans on the upper floors on the opposite side of the house. This will start an air current running through your house, creating a gentle breeze and pulling the hot air up and out of the house.
But wait, you say; doesn’t running fans cost electricity, too? Fans do pull electricity, but they don’t use nearly as much as an HVAC system does to run for the same amount of time. Plus, fans use evaporation cooling, where they help evaporate moisture off our skin, cooling us more effectively.
Chill in the Basement
If you have a basement in your house, you should plan to spend as much time there as possible during the summer. Basements don’t have the sunlight issue we mentioned earlier, so they stay cooler than the upper floors in the house. Not to mention heat rises, so your upper floors are going to trap all the hot air.
But even aside from those factors, your basement’s proximity to earth is going to help draw heat out as well. A few inches below the surface, dirt stays pretty cool; things like to be at equilibrium in physics, so the heat from your basement is going to move into the dirt, cooling your basement off. Set up a TV and a couch, and spend your summers chilling out downstairs.
Eat More Salad
Usually eating salad in the summer is associated with getting that beach bod you dream of all winter. But did you know it can help keep you cooler, too? Okay, no, lettuce can’t cool you down by magic, but not using your stove can save you big on cooling costs.
Ovens and stoves dump a lot of ambient heat into your house. So while you’re paying to power the oven, you’re also paying for the air conditioner to fight against it keeping the house cool. Instead, make blender soups, salads, fruits, or outdoor grilled dishes for dinner.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
A lot of us use more AC power than we realize, and certainly, more than we need. We forget to bump the air up as we head out the door to work, or we let it run a little too low through the evening after the sun has gone down. But simply turning your thermostat up during the day while you’re at work can save you as much as 10 percent on your power bills.
Programmable thermostats allow you to set a schedule for your air conditioner to maintain certain temperatures at certain times. When you leave for work, your thermostat will take care of turning the air up for you. Likewise, it can have things cooled back down for you by the time you get home in the evening.
Get a New AC
Sometimes saving money, in the long run, requires a little investment. Central AC installation is a major house project, but it’s one that can pay off huge dividends in the end.
If you have an out-of-date or too-small air conditioner, chances are you’re spending way more time running it than you should. Your unit can’t keep up with your cooling needs, so you’re throwing money down the drain running it all the time, and you’re still too hot. Getting a new system can make you more comfortable and pay for itself in cooling cost savings in the long run.
Learn More About How to Keep Cooling Costs Down
Trying to keep your house cool in summer can be an endeavor, especially if you live somewhere hot. Electric bills can skyrocket, but you can use these tricks to keep your costs down during the hot days of summer. Make a salad, head to the basement, and keep your cool until fall rolls around again.
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