8 Ways To Stay Cool While Saving Money This Summer
By Victoria Figueiredo
Ladies and germs, we have officially hit the halfway point for summer 2018. That might mean something special to people who live up north, but for us down south it’s just another random checkpoint in a seemingly endless string of dog days and hurricanes. Before we get too upset about the prospect of the sun beating down on us for four more months, shall we take a moment to appreciate the fact that other people would kill to have this kind of weather year-round? Must be nice to know something other than sweat and sunburns, huh? Looking at you, Alaska. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how we’re going to deal with another few months of 85-degree minimum weather without doing serious damage to your electric bill!
Or at least kick it up to a good 75 degrees. Giving your air conditioning unit a break while you’re out of the house will seriously cut down on your energy usage during the summery weather. Turn it back on when you walk in from work or leave it off for as long as you can stand it! A one-degree adjustment on your thermostat is equivalent to a 1% saving on your bill, so cooling an empty house isn’t doing much for anyone except the friendly people at Duke Energy, you know what I mean? If you much prefer being greeted by a blast of chilly air as you come off your afternoon commute, we totally understand. Do yourself a favor and invest in a smart thermostat like EcoBee or Nest, which lets you control the temperature of your home from an app on your phone. Turn that sucker off in the morning and do a little tech magic before you head home to make sure you’re living your best, non-sweaty life at all times.
I don’t know about you, but by the time I get home from work in the late afternoon, I feel like I’ve been doing a little yardwork on the surface of the sun. The last thing I want to do is stand over the stove, or god forbid use the oven for literally anything at all. Save yourself and your family from unnecessarily stifling heat and either stick to raw/cold foods or take the whole production outside. Summer means grilling and grilling means leaving the heat outside WHERE IT BELONGS.
Did you know that using hot water to do your laundry doesn’t actually do much except hike up your monthly energy expenditure? If you’re dealing with harsh oily stains and the like, you can soak the item in a small basin of hot water and let the heat do the work, but your washer doesn’t make water hot enough to effectively kill bacteria living in your hamper. Do yourself and your clothes a favor by washing in cold water. If you want to be extra eco-friendly, frugal, and cool (temperature-wise, since I have no idea how many Risky Business sunglasses you own and therefore cannot calculate your cool quotient) take your clean, wet clothes and line dry them! Get yourself an inexpensive drying rack or hook up a line in your yard. The sun and fresh air will do all the work while you pour yourself some nice cold water and cool off from the inside out.
All sources of light also produce some level of heat through radiant energy. Even your LED lights aren’t doing you any favors on summer days. The upside? It’s light out until almost 9:00 pm, so you don’t need lights anyway! Keep all your overhead fixtures and lamps off until you really need them and listen to your wallet sigh in relief.
Update your window situation, even if it’s just for the season. 30% of unwanted heat comes in through your windows in the form of sunlight, but blinds and curtains can help you curb how much light comes in and give you better control over the ambient temperature in your home. That means less need for air conditioning, and less money leaving your pocket! Bonus points if you get yourself heat-blocking curtains in a neutral color with plastic backing – they’ll do the best job at deflecting sunlight.
Sure, you could just turn off your AC and let your ceiling fan spin its little heart out, but what if we told you there was a better way? Fans can cool you down way more effectively if you set them to spin counterclockwise, which pushes the hot air up and away from your overheating bod. If you want to take it a step further, open up windows or doors on opposite sides of your house, set up a box fan, and prepare for the greatest cross-breeze of your life. Want to take it even further than that? Install an attic fan to nix the hot air that’s been collecting over your house all summer and instantly make it way easier to cool everything down. Our favorite plan of attack is using all three methods and pretending we’re somewhere temperate. You’re more than welcome to steal our happy place. Keep in mind fans cool people, not rooms! Turn off your fan setup as you exit a room so you don’t undercut your energy-saving efforts!
If you haven’t already ditched your incandescent bulbs, we’re letting you know it’s time. Long gone are the days of cold LEDs and unflattering CFLs being your only options! Get bulbs in any color you want and enjoy comfy lighting that uses a fifth of the electric power and lasts fifteen times longer than your cute little Edison bulbs. Best of all? CFL bulbs put out way less heat than their old-school counterparts, so you can turn them on as the sun goes down without resenting the fact that they’re making your surroundings warmer than necessary. What a gift!
Perhaps the greatest energy savings trick of all is also the most objectively annoying to be consistent about, I’m sorry to say. If you unplug your chargers and electronics while they’re not in use, you’ll not only cut your energy usage, you’ll cool your space way down. Oddly, even chargers that are plugged into the wall with nothing plugged into the charger still produce heat where the plug meets the outlet. If you can get into the habit of unplugging everything you’re done using, you’ll be golden.
Did we miss any ways to cool off without spending too much cash? Let us know in the comments!