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The hot season is just about upon us where I live, and the open windows will be shut against the southern heat. Living in the south means that we deal with three months of 90+ degree heat and smothering humidity. Cooling is necessary to be comfortable; but at the same time, you don’t have to spend excessive amounts on it.
Seal the Leaks
The first line of defense is making sure the hot air cannot get in. While some areas of the country weather-proof against the cold, in the south it makes sense to weather-proof against the heat as well. Make sure your windows seal well and there are no obvious gaps.
Keep Sun Out
Once your leaks are taken care of, make sure that your windows are covered, particularly on those sides of the house that face the sun. Coverings should be over the windows during the day, and if possible, reflect the heat back outside. Insulating blinds can make a big difference between sweltering and warm room temperatures, and are well worth the extra cost.
Move It Around
Moving air around will also make it feel cooler because the moisture on your body will dry and your body temperature will drop. Fans come in two varieties: ceiling and free-standing. Ceiling fans are good for getting air moving in a room. Make sure the blades are clean, and are turning in a way to push the air down into the room. Stand-alone fans can be positioned where you most need them.
Bring Cool Air In
If your evenings get cool enough, open the windows and let the cool evening air in overnight. Then in the morning, close them before the heat starts again. This can often eliminate the need for overnight cooling.
If you have air conditioning, invest in programmable thermostats. You can have the living space be warmer while you are at work, then cool down before you get home. This can save lots of money by limiting the amount of cooling the AC does while you are not home.
Keep The Temps Up!
And as long as we’re talking about raising the temperature, remember that every 1 degree raised above 78 will save you 3-4%!
Avoid Adding Heat Through Activities
One of the things you want to avoid during the hot months is adding heat to your home through your activities.
Cooking is a big source of heat in the home, and it can be adjusted so that its impact does not mean higher cooling bills.
If you have a grill, use it often! Double the amount that you are cooking so that you can quickly reheat food later.
Eat salads and other cold dishes. Summer is the best time to get fresh veggies from a farmer’s market or store, and can save heat in cooking.
Take advantage of uncooled spaces and use them for cooking. I rely on my crockpot and bread machine to help with food preparation. Both produce heat, so during the summer I use them in the garage. It is secured during the day, so I don’t have to worry about tampering, and more heat in an unheated space doesn’t matter.
You might be surprised how much your lighting choices affects the heat in your room. The worst offenders are halogen bulbs, commonly found in desk lamps and floor lamps. Don’t use them if you can help it.
Next up, regular incandescent bulbs put out a lot of heat as well. Switch them with Compact Fluorescents (CFLs), and you will have the added bonus of saving electricity on your lights as well! (Just a side note: when we switched all our lights over to CFLs, we halved our electricity bill).
Watch Other Heat Sources
Other appliances can put out heat as well. Know what they are and find a way to minimize the output of heat, or do without them. For example, heat drying on your dishwasher will raise the temps in your kitchen noticeably. Either hand wash, or allow the dishes to air dry in the pulled out racks overnight.
The clothes dryer is another big source of heat. Luckily, during the summer months, the amount of clothing we wear goes down. If you can, dry your clothes outside on a drying rack or clothesline.
The computer can be another big source of heat, especially if you leave it running all the time. Get in the habit of shutting down the machine if you do not need it.
Saving money on air conditioning just takes a bit of observation and a few small tasks. See if you can bring your cooling bill down this year!
Photo by Editor B