As summertime temperatures creep up the thermometer, energy bills have a way of climbing in tandem. But you can break the cycle! Before busting out the trusty air conditioner, try these these low-cost alternatives to beat the heat this summer.
1: Cook Cool
Ovens heat up more than just food and on hot, sticky days, your home can do without the extra warmth. For heat-free fare, try crisp salads and icebox cakes. Or move your cooking outdoors—nothing says summertime like grilled corn, barbeque, and fire-roasted s’mores. Enjoy the many delicious ways to whip up a meal without touching the oven.
2: Shield Your Windows
Block the heat from direct sunlight with window awnings, shades or thick curtains. According to the Department of Energy, window treatments can help reduce heat gain by up to 77 percent. Pay particular attention to south and west-facing windows, which tend to get more sun. For maximum benefits, couple wise window coverings with properly installed energy-efficient windows that seal out the warm air.
3: Buy Breezy Bedding
Avoid sweaty nights with breathable, cotton or cotton-blend sheets. Linen, jersey and percale are all great options. Choose light colors that reflect rather than absorb sun shining in through the windows. Save your flannel, fleece and heat-trapping satin for frostier seasons.
4: Focus Your Cooling
Instead of attempting to cool your entire home, make the most of your AC by focusing on a smaller room or area where you spend most of your time. Close off unused rooms and make sure all doors and windows to the outdoors are shut during the day (but take advantage of nighttime’s cooler temps by shutting the AC and opening windows after dark). Your AC won’t have to work as hard to chill a smaller footprint, giving you a more effective cool.
5: Switch to CFLs
Incandescent bulbs emit a surprising amount of heat. A simple switch to cooler, energy-efficient compact fluorescents can help to cut both the heat and your electric bill.
6: Rotate Your Fans
Ever wonder why your ceiling fan comes with a switch to adjust the rotation between clockwise and counter-clockwise? It’s to help you make the most of your fan’s circulation powers. Typically, running the fan counter-clockwise at a high speed in the summer will give you a nice cool breeze while running it clockwise at a low speed is best for circulating warm air in the winter months.
Do Your Part
While there are a number of things you can do to beat the heat in your house, don’t forget to do what you can to stay cool without the thermostat. Dress lightly, enjoy chilled drinks and apply cold compresses to your neck and wrists.
Of course generations have endured summer with nary a fan in sight, but if you do find yourself cranking up the AC, make sure you’re at least making the most of its cool blasts. And with all the money you’ll be saving thanks to your summertime energy smarts, think of all the lovely summer vacations you can take. After all, the best way to truly beat the heat is a day at the beach.
– By Samantha B. Rivers, Editor