I don’t know where you live, but where I live, it is hot. Like really hot. Almost unbearably hot. So hot that my child who never naps got so worn out from the heat, she napped for 2 hours (which was nice because I also got a nap. But I digress). It pretty much sucks.
What also sucks is the fact that in the summer, my electric bill goes up. Of course we do everything possible to keep the rates down: programmable thermostats, running appliances at night, using the grill instead of the ov…
I’m sorry. I fell asleep in the middle of my own sentence because it was so boring. We all know this shit. And I just can’t rehash the same information we’ve all been reading for years. You’d hate me and then stop reading and then I’d be sad and lonely. But fortunately, the king of dumpster divers is also a certified energy auditor and has worked in the energy and environmental field pretty much as long as I’ve known him (almost 16 years). Since I run a finance site and my readers like to, on occasion, save money, I talked him into sharing some unconventional or uncommon ways to save money on your electric bill (warning: some of you may know these tips. I commend you for that. Because I? Did not. I mean, why bother? That’s what I have him for).
So here we go. My husband’s Top 10 Unconventional Ways to Keep Your Summer Cooling Costs Affordable (and Other Random Tips):
- If you do not have an air conditioner and cool your house using fans, make sure you leave your windows open, especially windows on the same floor. It keeps your house cooler and it allows for cross ventilation. Not doing this can cause a convection oven-like effect which is really bad. (Unless you have a dream of cooking yourself. Then maybe it’s not so bad.)
- Another way to cool down if you don’t use or have an air conditioner is to take a cold shower. Or you can put your feet in cold water with a cold compress on your neck. Putting cool water on your wrists works too.
- Here’s a tip for my most frugal friends: if you don’t have or can’t afford to turn on your air conditioner, spend your days at places that have air conditioning. The library, coffee shops, a mall…pretty much anywhere you can think of where you can spend the day and remain cool.
- Check with your electricity provider when your summer rates go into effect. Summer rates tend to be higher than other time of year rates, so if you’re keeping track of your usage to estimate your bill, then it’s good to know when those rates increase. The increased rate can have a fairly significant impact on your monthly bill. (Trust me on this one)
- Replace your air filters. This helps to improve circulation throughout your house and since the air is moving better, your house can remain a more pleasant temperature. (Except in my house. No matter what we do, our room is blazing hot. Even in the winter).
- If you install a window air conditioning unit, do so on the north side of your house. The north side gets less sunlight so the unit won’t get as hot or work so hard. When you’re done using the air conditioner for the season, remove it from the window.
- If you install a window air conditioning unit, make sure that you insulate around it. You know that screen that sticks out on either side that kind of looks like an accordion? It’s not insulation; it’s an air barrier. Without the insulation, cool air can leak out and warm air can seep in, basically voiding the whole point of the air conditioner. And really, who wants that?
- For central air units, wash the cooling fins on the outdoor unit. This helps to cool the unit down, which in turn means it won’t work so hard. As an added bonus, this also removes dust and dirt, making the air conditioner run better. (You also won’t be breathing in that crap. So there’s that, too.)
- Awnings. Some people love them. Some people hate them. But regardless of your opinion, they do help block sunlight from coming in. If you are going to put them on your house, do so on south facing windows because the south side of your house gets more sun (which makes sense if you refer back to tip #4). Remove them in the winter.
- Don’t turn your thermostat all the way down. (Jana’s note: this one took a minute for me to understand. Hopefully I explain it clearly). Let’s say you set your thermostat for 75 when you’re not home (anyone outside the US, you’ll have to do your own conversion. Sorry about that). When you get home, you’re sweating. Profusely. And you would like to stop doing that. So you lower your temperature to 60 in the hopes that it’ll cool your house down quicker than if you set it to 70. Not true. Setting the temperature lower does not make the air conditioner work quicker; it just makes it work harder and runs longer. That means you pay more. Additionally, if you only want the house at 70 but forget to move the thermostat back up, you’ll be paying to keep your house at a temperature you don’t really want.
My husband also encouraged me to tell you this: if you have any further questions or want more information, contact your electricity provider or your state’s energy office. They should be able to answer your questions (Jana’s tip: if that’s not helpful, just use Google. That’s what I do. It’s faster and sometimes, more accurate).
And one final disclaimer that he’s making me write. Although these tips should help to lower your overall bill and keep you cool this summer, he cannot put a guarantee on the dollar amount of the savings. There are too many variables at play to quantify any savings. But they should work. (If not, let me know and I’ll send him hate mail. Or hate texts. Probably those. Maybe both.)