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The summer heat is coming, which means I may cry when I look at my power bill. When it’s 110 degrees outside and my family wants it to be 74 inside, it’s not cheap. This leaves you with two options: listen to everyone complain or look for ways to save. Here are ways to save on cooling costs, part four of our series on how to cut your utility bills.
Other posts in this series:
How to Cut Your Utility Bills | Part One: Water, Trash, Electricity + General Advice
How to Cut Your Utility Bills | Part Two: Internet, Phone, and Cable
How to Cut Your Utility Bills | Part Three: Heating Costs
How to Cut Your Utility Bills | Part Four: Cooling Costs
This is one of the easiest and most obvious ways to save. Ceiling fans are an efficient way to help circulate air making your home feel cooler without running the air conditioner more. Want to save on ceiling fans? Check eBay, Craigslist, and thrift stores (like Restore). You can also get the contractor’s price if you buy 5 or more at some stores.
Bonus tip: Use the “on” fan setting on your air conditioner to circulate air continuously through your home. It will help to even out hot spots and allow you to run your thermostat at a higher temperature without feeling the heat.
Build an Attic Stairs Insulation Box
This is basically a box that sits at the top of your attic stairs to keep air from escaping. To build one, you’ll need foam board, foil tape, a straight edge, measuring tape, and a utility knife. The best thing about this box is that it is really light so you can easily move it out of the way when you need to access the attic. You can add weather stripping around the edge to increase the effectiveness even more. You can watch this YouTube video for full instructions.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
You can set the thermostat to increase and decrease the temperature based on when you are home. 78 degree is considered energy efficient. If that is too warm for comfort when you are home, you can set it to 78-80 degrees when you away. You can also usually raise the temperature a few degrees while you sleep. We have this one and it is only $23. It’s very easy to program and works well.
Many have a program for each day of the week so you can change settings for weekends and weekdays. If you are home all the time, at least have it set to turn the air up/down while you sleep.
Change the Air Filter
Not only does this improve the air quality of your home, but your air conditioner will also be more efficient. You should check your filter monthly and expect to replace it every 3 months. You can see a guide to air filters here.
Service your HVAC
It is also helpful to have your air conditioning unit serviced once a year. If it is older than 15 years old, it may be time to look into replacing it with a new energy efficient model.
Wear Less Clothing
Kids want to wear swimsuits all day? Great! If you are wearing a sweatshirt and long pants inside when it’s 100 degrees outside, you’re most likely paying way too much for air conditioning. Popsicles and ice cubes also make great snacks. At night, you can strip the bed down to just the sheets.
Skip the Oven
During the heat of the day, avoid using appliances that generate heat. This includes the dryer, oven, dishwasher, etc. I even like to put the crock pot in the garage or on the porch. Grilling is another great option and you can see some delicious recipe ideas here.
Dry Clothes Outside
To dry clothes, you can string up a clothes line or use a drying rack. This is especially helpful for towels and other things that take longer to dry.
Keep Cool Air In
You’re paying good money for that cool air so keep it inside! Use weather stripping and a can of Great Stuff. Go around the house and fill any gaps. If you can see sunlight around the outside of your door, that’s a problem.
Close the Curtains
When the sun is streaming in, it is also heating up the room. Closing whatever blinds or curtains you have will help with this, but if you’re in the market for new curtains, you can maximize your savings by buying room darkening blackout thermal curtains. An added bonus: put them in your little kid’s room and he or she may sleep a little longer (no promises though).
Limit Ventilation Fan Use
When you turn on the bathroom fan you’re ridding your house of smells but it also takes the cool air with it. Be mindful of your use of the bathroom and kitchen fans to be sure they aren’t running when you don’t need them.
Most electricity providers will send out an employee to do a FREE in-home assessment. They will walk through your home with you to point out improvements you can make to decrease your utility costs. You’ll be surprised how many of their tips are easy things you can do yourself.
Close Air Vents
You can also look at closing air vents in rooms you don’t use a lot and keeping those doors shut. You can go big and put a piece of wood over the space or go little and just put a box on top of the vent. Remember not to close more than 30% of your vents or it will put too much strain on the main system.
This won’t save you anything but a panic attack when the electricity bill is double over the previous month. Sign up for budget billing with your electric company and they will average all of your payments from the last year and give you one flat rate to pay each month. If you end over paying this year (since it was based off last year’s numbers) then your last bill of the year will be reduced by that amount. You could end up with a December bill of $12! To have the set rate every month is very helpful as you plan your budget and a big stress reliever in the winter months.
Any other tips I missed for saving on cooling costs? Let us know in the comments!