BY: Trent Hamm / money.usnews.com
EVERYONE WANTS TO COOL down during the hot, 90-degree days of summer, but air conditioning can be costly and consume a lot of energy. Fortunately, there are many ways to get around the high expense of keeping your air conditioning running all summer long. If you start prepping now, you can shave hundreds of dollars off your bill and help protect the environment by lowering your energy usage.
With that in mind, here are seven energy-saving strategies:
Turn off the air and open the windows.
Keep the shades drawn.
Spend more time on the lowest floor of your house.
Set your ceiling fan blades to run in a counterclockwise direction.
Take cold baths and showers.
Go somewhere else during the hottest part of the day.
Learn more about how to put these seven tips into practice to keep your air conditioning usage and cooling costs low.
Turn Off the Air and Open the Windows
An easy and cost-effective way to trim costs in the summer months is simply turning off the air conditioning and opening the windows. In fact, you can use this as your default mode for keeping your house cool and only switch to using the air conditioning if it begins to feel uncomfortably hot in your house. If it gets unbearably warm, close the windows; then, set your thermostat to only a few degrees lower. This will keep the air conditioning from running excessively.
Keep the Shades Drawn
Regardless of whether you're running the air conditioning or not, make sure to keep the blinds drawn on the side of the house that has direct sunlight hitting it. If you're gone for the day, draw the blinds everywhere. This prevents a lot of the direct sunlight from entering your home, which keeps your house cooler. Plus, this prevents your air conditioning from running for longer than needed and reduces your energy bill.
Spend More Time on the Lowest Floor of Your House
As heat rises, the coolest parts of your home are on the lowest floor, likely in your basement. When temperatures climb, turn this area of your home into your default space for hanging out. Even if you choose to run the air conditioning, you won't need to run it as long as you would otherwise since the lower areas of your house will stay cooler than the rest of the house.
Minimize the amount of indoor cooking that you do. Cooking indoors during the summer months introduces extra heat into your home. Plus, cooking indoors requires running one energy-devouring device to heat things up and another energy-consuming device to cool things down. The solution is to cook outside as much as you can on the grill and stick to preparing cold and room temperature foods in your kitchen (think: salad, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and sandwiches).
Set Your Ceiling Fan Blades to Run in a Counterclockwise Direction
This should be as simple as flipping a switch on your ceiling fan. You'll know it's right when you're standing under the fan and can feel air blowing across your skin. Ceiling fans provide a better cooling effect in summer when they blow air down directly below the blades, which is the effect of setting the blades to run counterclockwise. In the winter, the reverse is true, so you'll want the blades to run in the other direction.
Take Cold Baths and Showers
Not only will this help cool you off and make the heat feel a little more tolerable (meaning you're more likely to just open the windows rather than running the air conditioning), it also reduces the amount of heat introduced into your home from hot water.
Go Somewhere Else During the Hottest Part of the Day
Find a place to go for several hours that provides air conditioning and keep cool. Visit the library or a community center to cool off instead of paying a hefty sum for constant air conditioning. To get the best value out of this, turn off your air conditioning before you leave the house, so that it doesn't run during the warmest part of the day.
These simple strategies can help you cut down your summer cooling costs and reduce your energy consumption without cramping your style.