20 Home Cooling Hacks to Save You Money
In many places across the nation, including Orlando, New Orleans, and Sacramento, one of the summer’s toughest challenges can be keeping cool. Power bills soar – in Orlando, Florida, running the air conditioning can easily cost you anywhere from six hundred to well over a thousand dollars a year, depending on the efficiency of your unit. Across the nation, most people spend $52 to $350 per month to run air conditioning nine hours a day. These twenty tips and tricks will help you keep cool throughout the summer, without breaking your bank account.
1) Close curtains, shutters, and blinds, especially when not at home, to block the sun’s warming rays.
Try to find opaque but light curtains, that will block the sun without trapping in heat. Another effective hack is to consider installing tinted or low-e window films to filter out at least some of the light when you’re home.
2) Swap out your bed-sheets for lighter fabrics, like cotton or linen.
Save heavy sheets – like flannel – for the colder winter months. Cooler sheets can help you sleep better during those hot summer nights.
3) Keep direct sunlight away from your windows with shade trees.
Or with a trellis, or awnings, especially on the south- and west-facing sides, since they get the most sun. Don’t add permanent shade if you want the sun to warm you up in the winter; retractable awnings, deciduous trees, and trellises with vines that’ll die back all strike a nice compromise.
4) Keep yourself cool!
This can be one of the biggest solutions – after all, it’s not the temperature of the house that really matters, it’s your own internal body temperature that makes the difference. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing, stay out of direct sunlight, take slightly cool (not cold) showers, and drink teas proven to have a cooling effect like peppermint or chrysanthemum.
5) If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try sticking your sheets in the fridge or freezer for a bit before bed.
It won’t help all night, but it can keep you cool long enough to drift off. You can also put ice packs – wrapped in a towel – in key places, or a frozen cotton sock filled with rice, in an inversion of old-fashioned hot water bottles.
6) If you start getting overheated, get somewhere cool immediately.
Apply cold compresses to the wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knee.
7) Start adjusting to hotter temperatures early.
Our bodies are fairly amazing and can adapt to a new temperature within a week or two. Avoid running the A/C in the spring and try not to set the A/C much lower than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, 78 degrees with a ceiling fan. Our family likes to try to keep the indoor temperature within ten degrees of the outdoor temperature, to prevent the outdoors from feeling too unbearably hot. The higher you set the temperature, the more money you’ll save – in most places, your energy bills will be three to ten percent lower per degree above 78 degrees.
8) Set your thermostat five or more degrees higher when you’re away from home.
Consider getting a programmable thermostat that can lower the temperature just before you arrive home, so you can enjoy a cool house without losing energy.
9) Another trick from history…
Put a shallow pan or bowl full of ice in front of a fan, to get the effect of a cool sea breeze. However if your goal is to save total energy usage, this approach may not be that effective when you factor in the energy needed to make the ice and run the fan.
10) Open all of your windows at least a crack (if it’s safe to do so) to ventilate your house at night.
If you have double-hung windows, open them at the top and bottom so that cool air can enter at the bottom and warm air can escape out the top. Use window screens to keep bugs from getting in.
11) If you’re not running the A/C, try opening windows on the top and bottom floors of the house.
This will produce a natural airflow as the hot air rises and escapes. Leave doors along the pathway open.
12) Learn which rooms tend towards which temperatures, and spend your day in the coolest room.
Even if that requires moving as the sun shifts and strikes different rooms. Keep unused rooms dark, with blinds drawn and lights off. Leave doors open to rooms you’re using, so they can ventilate properly.
13) Change your ceiling fans’ settings so they run counter-clockwise at high speed.
(Some fans have a remote control, while others have a manual cord you can pull to switch the direction).
14) Be choosy about your ceiling fan.
Energy Star rated fans can be easily 10 to 20 percent more efficient than standard fans – making for a cooler room and lower energy bills. If fan noise is a concern, go for a sleek, smooth fan, since they make less noise. Fans with a high cfm (cubic feet per minute) will cool a larger room more quickly, but also use more energy and can be noisier. 42- to 44-inch fans are ideal for rooms 144 to 225 square feet in size, while 52-inch fans work best in rooms 225 to 400 square feet in size.
15) Don’t forget to use your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans when showering or cooking.
16) Consider buying a dehumidifier.
Dry air feels cooler than humid air, and your A/C will need to do less work if it’s working alongside a good-quality dehumidifier.
17) Avoid using incandescent light bulbs.
Instead switch to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), LEDs, or similar. Energy efficient lights give off less heat and have a lower impact on your energy bill.
18) Try to run appliances like the washer, dryer, and dishwasher at night, since they give off heat.
You can also use an outdoor grill instead of the oven or stovetop, since cooking heats the area around it. Outdoor grilling is a fun way to reduce the amount of heat you’re making inside.
19) Clean or change your system’s air filter before the summer, and then every month during it.
Keeping your air filter clean will reduce your energy usage, and help to trap pollen, pet dander, and other irritants. Consider upgrading to a more efficient A/C unit if you have an older model – the upfront cost can be high, but you’ll have tremendous savings on your monthly bills.
20) If you consistently have an overheated house, consider repainting to a lighter color or even replacing your roof with something better for the summer heat than the standard shingles.
While the cost of replacing the roof might be prohibitive if it still has a lot of life left, most roofs need to be replaced every 20 years. Check with your home owners association to see if you can switch to a lighter colored shingle when the time comes to replace it, as this will cut down the amount of heat a new roof will absorb.