Not surprisingly the demand for electricity rises as the weather gets hot and air conditioners start humming. Even so there are ways you can keep cool at home, save energy and save money this summer. Check out the following nine free and low-cost ways to reduce energy use and control costs.
- Install a programmable thermostat and raise the setting to the highest comfortable temperature. You can save 3 to 5 percent on your air conditioning costs for each degree you raise the thermostat.
- Close doors leading to uncooled parts of your home. If you have central air conditioning, close off vents to unused rooms. Keep filters clean to help save money.
- Even if you have air conditioning, use ceiling and other fans to provide additional cooling and better circulation. All of our bedrooms have ceiling fans that can help people “feel” cooler without cranking the a/c.
- Seal holes and cracks around doors and windows. Eliminate air leaks around window air conditioners with foam insulation or weather-stripping.
- Close blinds, shades and draperies facing the sun to keep out the sun’s heat and help fans and air conditioners cool more efficiently.
- Turn off power sources. TVs, computers and other electronic devices draw power when they are in standby mode or turned off but still plugged in. Plug electronics into power strips and turn off the power switch when the items are not in use. Not only do these electronics suck up energy, but also some of them cool give off residual heat that could raise the temperature of the room.
- Use timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting to save money on e.
- Replace old appliances with new energy efficient Energy Star appliances.
- If possible, install whole-house fans that bring in cooler night-time air that can pre-cool a house and reduce energy use in the daytime if heat is kept out by closing windows and shades.
Another approach we use is to keep our central air conditioning system on “auto” so that once the house reaches the set temperature–usually, 75 degrees–everything shuts off. Clearly, when the system is off, we aren’t using any energy to keep our house cool.
Tell us: What are some of the tips you use to stay cool and save money during hot summer months?
Leah Ingram is the founder of the Suddenly Frugal blog and the author of 14 books, including Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less (Adams Media, 2010) and Toss, Keep, Sell: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Clearing Out Clutter and Cashing In (Adams Media, 2010). Leah appears regularly in frugal-living segments on the “10! Show” on NBC10 in Philadelphia and is a blogger for the NBC Universal website Home Goes Strong. Recently, Leah launched a new frugal venture called Philadelphia on the Cheap. This site focuses on deals, discounts, and freebies in the Philadelphia area—where she lives with her husband, two teenage daughters, and dog. Follow her on Twitter @suddenlyfrugal