Have you figured out ways to keep things cool indoors this summer without sending your utility bills through the stratosphere? If you could use some help in that regard, here are some tips, tricks, and great ideas that will help you stay cool without burning a hole in the budget.
1. Ceiling fans
Use them. Liberally. It costs less than $5 a month to run a high-efficiency ceiling fan on high speed for 12 hours a day (assuming a cost of $.142 per kWh, which is the U.S. average), according to the Energy Use Calculator. The result is your home will feel about 7 degrees cooler simply because the air is circulating effectively. And that means your air conditioner will not have to work as hard to keep things comfortable.
2. Avoid using the oven
During the hot summer months, it’s wise to come up with meals and preparations that won’t require using the oven. Instead, consider your slow cooker or Instant Pot. Opt for more salads. Make salad the entree. Cook outdoors since it’s already hot out there, firing up the grill isn’t going to be a problem.
3. Whole house fan
A whole house fan (not to be confused with an attic fan) is installed in the attic and designed to ventilate the house whenever the outdoor air is cooler, which is typically after the sun sets—making it possible to turn the air conditioner off at night.
For a seasoned and experienced homeowner, installing a whole house fan is typically a do-it-yourself project. However, for a professional, it’s a quick and easy job. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Energy website.
4. Programmable thermostat
You can install this small, relatively inexpensive device yourself. It will more than pay for itself in a single summer. Now you won’t have to keep remembering to turn the setting up or down, depending on if you are home. Simply program it to fit your lifestyle, and you won’t waste money cooling the house when no one is home.
5. Cover the windows
Drapes, blinds, and shades are all very effective in reflecting the sun’s heat. White blinds, as opposed to taupe or similar color, do an even better job. But they won’t do a lot of good unless you draw and lower the window coverings early in the morning before the house heats up.
Consider blackout curtains or drapes. Because of the woven fabric, “blackout” fabric prevents the sun’s heat from entering the room as light reflects out because it can’t get in. That keeps the room cool.
6. Plant trees
Consider planting trees on your home’s south and west sides as you landscape. Select varieties that are fast-growing and have a thick canopy. Simply providing this type of shade for your home during the hot summer will likely help to reduce energy costs by up to 25 percent a year or more.
So what is the fastest-growing shade tree? Landscape experts say it’s the Royal Empress (aka Paulownia) tree, growing up to 60 feet in 3 years! However, before you rush out to get this particular fast-growing tree for your property, read up on the pros and cons.
If your attic is not well-insulated, you may be sending all that nice cooled air right out through the roof. Check with your utility providers to see if any offer incentives to homeowners who beef up their home’s insulation. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that your net cost to insulate will be quite reasonable given the return on your investment in lower cooling and heating bills.
It’s your turn! What’s your best idea, hack, tip, or trick to keep cool when it’s hot? Add it in the comments below.