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Stay Cool This Summer — And Save Money

We’re moving into warmer summer months. In my neck of the woods, June wasn’t too bad. But July’s turning out to be something of a scorcher. That means the air conditioner is turning on more frequently. We want to run the AC less, and keep our electric bill down, and the good news is that this is quite possible.

With a little care and planning, it is possible to save money cooling your home. Here are some things you can do to keep cool during the summer months, while helping keep your cooling bill a little lower:

  • Choose energy efficiency: Get an air conditioner that is energy efficient. For a central air unit, that means checking to see that the SEER number is at least 13 (14 if you live someplace extra warm), and that your room AC unit is at least 11. You might pay more up front, but in the long run you’ll save in energy costs.
  • Keep your AC unit properly maintained: Make sure that your air conditioner is in good working order. Make sure the filter is replaced regularly, and that you have it professionally serviced before each cooling season starts.
  • Choose your spot carefully: When installing the unit, make sure that it can discharge the hot air from your house. Shady spots are best, and you don’t want to crowd the unit with vegetation.
  • Check your home for energy efficiency: Perform a check for energy efficiency. Better insulation, sealing cracks around windows, energy efficient window panes, and weatherstripping can keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Keep windows on the sunny side of your home covered: I move my work station around, according to the time of day during the summer. I close the blinds on the sunny side of the house, and open them on the other side, so I have natural light. Then, as the sun moves, I cover other windows, and open new ones. It takes about two minutes twice a day, and it helps keep the home cooler, and the AC off longer.
  • Landscaping can help: The right landscaping can help you keep your home cool. Trees and shrubs on the south and west sides of your home can provide shade during the hottest times of the day, and can protect your home’s interior from the heat.
  • Watch out for the way you use appliances: Having the oven or stove on, running the dryer, and setting the the dishwasher to heat dry the dishes can warm up the house and make the AC unit work harder. During the summer, use the microwave or outdoor grill more, or enjoy eating raw foods. We eat a lot more fruits and vegetables during the summer, and any red meat, chicken or fish (usually two or three times a week) we consume is prepared on the grill. We air dry our clothes and dishes more during the summer as well.

In the end, there are a number of things you can do to save money on cool costs. The ultimate, of course, is taking a staycation, or going to the municipal pool, or walking the mall, during the hottest part of the day. You don’t need to cool the house while you are gone, and you can return in the evening when it cools off a bit and you can open some windows.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

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