Although much of the country is enjoying the chilly weather and the lead-up to the holidays, some places remain impervious to seasonal changes. Those areas are hot all year round, and residents never stop looking for ways to cool off. If the months ahead are even chillier than usual, you might end up blowing through your heating budget, leaving you with a need to tighten the purse strings next summer. In either case, you’ve got to find ways to keep the home cool without going bankrupt in the process. And that’s going to take some planning. A few of those projects will require work you should take on well before it gets that hot, and some will even save you money in the cold weather months as well. So consider these five ways to keep your home cool on a budget, and reap the benefits next summer.
First of all, look to improve the seals around all of your windows and doors. Air conditioning is expensive, and you certainly don’t want to waste it by cooling off the neighborhood. But that cold air will find every crease and crack there is, so examine your windows and doors. Any seal that isn’t airtight should be caulked or weatherstripped. In addition, look for light-colored drapes or reflective window film that can actually help keep heat outside. The better you do in these areas, the lower your bills will be overall.
Another great tip isn’t adding anything else, but merely reducing instead. Consider cutting down on the amount of cooking you do when the weather is hottest. Getting that oven heated up to cook a meal not only takes up energy, but will overpower anything you are doing to keep the room cool. So try to limit the amount of oven use over the summer. You can grill outdoors instead, use a smaller toaster oven that doesn’t generate as much heat, or cook things that go on the stovetop.
Next, make sure you are only cooling the rooms you use. Central air is always costly, but there is really no reason to cool off a spare bedroom or den that isn’t being used. Simply close off the vents in that room and shut the doors. Air it out every other day to keep things moving. But you’ll notice a real improvement in your electric bill, and older air conditioning systems will also cool the rooms you are using much more effectively without the extra strain.
One way to help your air conditioner is to fit it with a mister attachment. You’ll find several different brands, so go with a name you trust. Basically, the device will spray a fine mist of water into the air as the air conditioner runs. Introducing that liquid into the atmosphere will actually help lower the temperature faster, even if you keep the air conditioner at the same temperature setting. The water absorbs the heat in the air as it evaporates, simply cooling the room without any additional electric expenditures.
Finally, forgo air conditioning altogether for natural air and ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are one of the cheapest ways to cool a space, and they work incredibly well. Their energy use is comparable to a common light bulb, and they are fairly easy to install. Add the work of a fan on top of one of those cooling towers and you’ll be shocked how comfortable even the hottest room will be. If you are going to skip out air conditioning and just use fans, make sure you keep your windows open as well. The best is when you can create a cross breeze. That’s not possible with the layout of every home, but ceiling fans will make a real difference in any case.