Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Saving Money while Staying Cool During a Heat Wave

The news and weather forecasters have been calling for some very hot weather across the country in the next few days. 

That means many people are going to be cranking up the air conditioning in an effort to try and stay cool, and that usually makes for higher electric bills in the summer. 

It is possible to keep cool while still trying to save on electric costs during the hot summer time. Listed below you will find my fifteen tips for keeping cool when the temperatures rise.

Take advantage of cooler weather: If the area where you live cools off in the evening, take advantage of this to cool off your entire house. Open windows and doors with screens to bring the inside temperature down and facilitate cross breezes. Put fans in the windows to pull cool air in and hot air out of the house.  

In the morning, close up your house and draw blinds and drapes closed, so the house stays dark and cool. If you have blinds, close them or angle them upwards. That way, light is reflected up and into the room and direct rays of the sun are not let in. 

Remember that shade is a wonderful tool to use to keep heat to a minimum. Keep the sun from hitting your windows and doors. Curtains will help on the inside, but you can also use the Mylar covered auto sun shades to cover an outside window that is in direct sunlight during the heat of the day. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering the house by as much as 80%. 

Inexpensive bamboo shades that roll-up and down are another way to keep your doors shady. We have four bamboo shades on our back porch and we pull them down during the hottest parts of the day to keep the back of the house cooler. Trees can also be planted to provide shade to help keep your home cooler. 

Keep the air moving around inside. Fans are another tool you can use to keep your house cooler in the summer. Ceiling fans help to create breezes in the house during the day and night and can make an entire room feel cooler. 

High velocity vans are an easy way to move large amounts of air around a room efficiently. This helps the air conditioner work more efficiently, so you can actually set the thermostat temperature higher than would be the case without the fans. 

Also, make sure you clean your air conditioning filters and fans regularly, so they will work more efficiently.

Close off rooms you are not using. If you’re not using a room, close the vents and the doors. Same goes for closets, storage rooms, and bathrooms. Also, close the door to the basement, and down any stairwells. Remember that heat rises while cold air falls, so if you have a basement and you have the door open, cold air from upstairs will actually fall down the stairs where you don’t need it.

Spend your time in the coolest area of the house. That may be a basement or a smaller room where the windows can catch a breeze or a window air conditioner has less space to cool, which makes that room cooler than larger rooms in the house. Basements are usually 10-15 degrees cooler than the upstairs part of the house. My sister’s house has a basement in it and when we visit there during the summer we spend a lot of time there because it is much cooler than the upstairs portion of her house.

Stay hydrated. Your body needs water to keep cool, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. Your body is designed to cool itself and if you stay hydrated, your body will do its job more efficiently than if you become dehydrated.  

Dress for the season. Go barefoot or wear sandals and keep the socks and tennis shoes for cooler weather. Wear lighter weight fabrics and shorts with a sleeveless shirt. 

Consider wearing your swimsuit. One summer when I first lived on my own in a small house with no air conditioning, the weather was miserably hot. I stayed in my swimsuit when I was not working and would often take a cold shower and then go outside to dry off in the shade, which made the heat more bearable. 

Use the water hose or use a spray bottle of water to give yourself a spritz of cool water every once in a while. 

Minimize heat buildup inside the house. Do all that you can do in order to not add to the heat of the house during the day when temperatures are at their highest.  Ovens, computers, lamps, washers, dryers, and dishwashers can all act like mini-space heaters and can put out large amounts of heat in your rooms.

Run appliances either late at night or early in the morning and not during the heat of the day.  Use electrical power strips to plug your electronic devices into, so you can turn off the switch when not in use because many electronics give off heat. 

Turn off the lights. A traditional 60 watt incandescent bulb can heat a small room as much as five degrees in one hour while a 100 watts bulb can heat the room as much as 11 degrees in an hour. While CFL's are much better than traditional bulbs at heating up, they do still put off some heat, so turn them off when you don't need them.

One of the biggest contributors to indoor heat and humidity is cooking. Feel free to cook outside during the summer. I can remember many days cooking dinner outside with my Grandmother during the summer. She had a whole kitchen set up outside.  Use your gas or charcoal grill to cook outside and keep the heat out of your home.  

If you do have to cook inside, use small appliances like electric skillets and crock pots to your advantage; they maintain low temperatures well and release almost no heat into the kitchen.  Use a toaster oven rather than heat up the house with your big oven. 

Remember, air conditioners have to work harder to deal with the excess heat and humidity created by cooking indoors. If you’ve ever turned your oven on during a hot summer day then you know what I’m talking about.

Plan ahead and eat cooler meals to save energy.  Pay attention to the weather forecast and take advantage of the cooler days to prepare a few extra meals and stash them in the freezer. You can then cook that food in your microwave when faced with a hot spell rather than heating up the house with the oven. Eat foods such as salads, fruits, sandwiches, crackers and cheeses instead of heating up the house rather than cook a more traditional meal.  

Install a programmable thermostat. These devices regulate the temperature in your house automatically according to the schedule that you set. Thus, when you’re not home, it allows the heating or cooling to turn off for several hours, saving you on your energy bill. A programmable thermostat can easily cut your energy bill by 10 to 20%.

Check your home for air leaks. Most homes have some air leaks that make the job of keeping it cool in summer much harder. In the summertime, heat can leak into homes through cracks and openings around the house, and around window air conditioning units. Adding caulk, foam and weather stripping around doors, windows, and air conditioners can help to prevent these leaks. 

Use cold water to help stay cool. Run your wrists under a cold tap for five seconds, which will help your body to stay cool. Place a wet washcloth in a Ziploc baggie and stick it in the freezer. Pull it out when you feel hot and wipe your face and arms and hands off, which will make your feel cooler immediately. When I was growing up, we always took a few baggies of wet washcloths with us when we were going anywhere. 

Consider running a dehumidifier. Getting the humidity level in your house lower is like a magic bullet, which will allow you to raise the temperature on your air conditioning unit and thus save money. 

There you have it, tips to stay cool while still trying to save money in the process. Hopefully, when you open your electric bill this summer you will have a pleasant surprise. 

Remember, do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and stay cool this summer.

What tips do you have for saving money during the hot days of summer?

Belinda
~ Living within our Means ~
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18 comments :

  1. Great tips. My Daddy always told me the one about cold on your wrists to cool down. I have done that countless times as well as cold rag on the back of my neck.
    Truly never thought about the way the slats on the blinds go - but that makes sense. I will change my direction for summer!
    Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Cheryl. Your Dad sounds like a wise man. :)

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  2. Since our lows are currently a balmy 80 degrees I am not opening the house. I wear only cotton, shorts in the house and flipflops to stay as cool as possible andI will turn the ac up higher and use fans, but I am not turning it off. It would take forever to get the house even somewhat cool again. I think we are supposed to get storms for a couple of days and that will brings some of the heat down, maybe!

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    1. I hope it does bring the heat down, Anne. I won't turn our a/c off either as it's too hard to gt it cool again. It's raining here right now with more rain on the way.

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  3. We live in the basement in the hot weather, make use of ceiling fans, grill outside, can outside,wear only 100% cotton clothing, and don't run the air conditioner unless it is over 100% and sometimes not even then.

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    1. Wow, that's great Kim. I don't know if I could stand that or not. Very good tips though, thank you. :)

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  4. Wonderful tips !
    The heat is oppressive today, I'm not a lover, give me the cooler days of Autumn and I'm happy as a pig in mud.
    We have pull-down blinds on the back porch, I confess to only rolling them up after the sun goes down....they help tremendously.
    Thank goodness for air-conditioning, without it we'd all be miserable.
    Thank you for sharing your tips, so many good ones.
    Hugs,
    ~Jo

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    1. Thank you, Jo. I love the autumn days too as they are so much cooler. I'm already looking forward to them. LOL

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  5. We've been lucky that the hot weather has passed us buy for the most part. (We had a few days of 90+ degrees in June). We haven't had to use our A/C, and are getting by with just opening our screen doors to let in fresh air. This is especially easy this summer, as I'm home quite a bit throughout the day, vs at work.

    We also have a pool, so that is our go to when it gets too hot - jump in the pool & cool off, or just put your feet in.

    We installed AC in this house last summer, and also put in solar. Our house is situated in a way that means it gets a tremendous amount of sun. We knew we'd need AC, and that required enough electrical work, it made sense to have the solar done as well. Now we at least know we're generating a lot of solar energy on warm days, and earning money when we don't have to turn on the AC

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    1. That is so great that you all have solar power. That is one of our goals someday too.

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  6. You missed living by a lake. :):):) Fish every day, too, from the fishers could decrease grocery cost. I would eat fresh lake-caught fish 3 times daily. Looks as if you covered all ideas for our hot summers. Did you mention soaking feet in cold water? As a kid, I did that when we had only fans. 93 degrees today.
    -memphis metro

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    1. Hot days are upon us, Anna. Living by a lake would be wonderful. I would sit with my feet in the ice cold water too.

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  7. Phyllis at southern frugal in YouTube also provides great tips for staying cool if you need to work outside in the heat. The best idea being to get a wide, cloth headband, cut a small hole in it and fill with ice cubes, then wear it around your neck while outdoors. Refill with ice as needed.

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    1. Oh, that is a great idea, Nichole. Thanks for the tip. I like to watch Phyllis on her Youtube channel.

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    2. I'm not sure if you've watched recently. Phyllis found out, not long ago, that she has cancer.

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    3. Oh no, I hadn't heard that, Nichole. That is such terrible news. I'll be praying for her. Thank you for letting me know.

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  8. Great tips! On especially hot days I love going down to the basement to cool off.

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