While basking in chilly air conditioning is a fun part of the American lifestyle, getting stuck with the costly power bill for it isn’t. Luckily, we found some other ways to beat the heat without busting your budget this summer.
While your air conditioner is probably the biggest reason your electricity bill skyrockets during summer, there might be other culprits around your house worth investigating. There are also plenty of simple things you can do or invest in that’ll help you (and your wallet) chill out.
Buy a Programmable Thermostat
Smart thermostats give you more control and peace of mind over air conditioner use in your home. You can set a schedule for it to run on each day, and trigger it to turn on only when it exceeds a particular temperature, like a conservative 77 degrees, for example. You can also tell your thermostat to turn off the A/C when you’re not home, which is a great way to save money and not waste electricity. We like the Nest Learning Thermostat ($249) for its ease of use and ability to automatically learn and adjust to your preferences, and the Honeywell Home RTH2300B1038 ($24.48) for its simple on-device programming you won’t need a mobile app to use.
Check Seals, Insulation, and Ducts
Unless your house is brand new, odds are it is leaking air somehow, be it through the weatherstripping around your front door, gaps around a window, or cracks and gaps around pipes and outlets. This means any cool air you manage to acquire is likely finding its way back out through these holes and wasting your money.
Swing by your local hardware store to pick up new weatherstripping or a container of caulk for sealing up doors and windows. For ducts, check connection points and folds for tears or holes, and seal any leaks with foil tape then a layer of duct tape. For insulation, ensure your attic is properly insulated, along with any non-brick walls.
Replace Your A/C Filter
Ensure your HVAC system is working efficiently by changing your air filter seasonally. By choosing properly sized filters and replacing them on a regular basis, you’re helping your HVAC system keep you (and your wallet) comfortable year round. Filters are available at any home improvement store. They usually come in packs of two or three and cost anywhere from about $10 to $20, which isn’t terribly pricey. It’s worth noting, however, that if your HVAC system is really old (like 20 or 30 years old), you should consider replacing it with a new energy efficient system, as new units cool your home faster and the lower power draw can help you save on your monthly bill.
Install a Window Treatment
Anything you put over your windows will help keep unwanted heat from seeping into your home. Installing smart shades doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and they have a nice modern feel. Insulated window treatments are an even better option, albeit a pricier one, as they are designed to act as a barrier between your windows and the inside of your home and regulate temperature that way.
Make Exterior Adjustments
There are things you can do to your home’s exterior (and to your yard) that will make it easier to regulate summertime temperatures inside your home. Painting your home’s exterior a lighter color can help reduce the amount of heat it retains, and installing shaders or awnings on the windows that get the most sun can help keep temperatures lower as well. You can also plant trees and bushes near your house to block light from windows or areas of your roof, though waiting for them to grow is obviously more a long-term plan. Just make sure you keep plenty of area around your A/C unit clear clear of grass and leaves for optimal circulation.
Dehumidify Your Air
Heat is one thing, but when it’s humid too the air feels stuffy, muggy, and insufferable. A dehumidifier can help remove extra moisture from the air to help you feel drier and more comfortable during hot summer months, making it a great investment. Portable dehumidifiers can be moved around your house as needed, like in your bedroom at night or your kitchen or living room during the day. We like the Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier ($44.99) and the hOmeLabs 3,000 Sq. Ft. Energy Star Humidifier ($239.99).
Get Some Fans
Sitting in front of a fan on a hot day is practically a summer rite of passage. There are oscillating tower fans, lightweight small fans that can sit on your desk or nightstand, and even some impressive industrial options for the most sweltering of days. Of course, you can also opt for a portable air conditioner if you’re renting a home or apartment without air conditioning, or really only care about keeping a single room cool.
Limit Using Electronics
While it’s tempting to try and beat the heat by staying in and binge-watching the latest Netflix show, your gigantic flatscreen, powerful gaming computer, and other electronics are actually unsuspecting sources of heat. Consider limiting how much you use them each day, and minimize use of lights and even kitchen appliances like your laundry dryer and oven to really make a difference.
Use Cooling Bed Sheets
During the hottest months, the heat can sometimes linger through the night leaving you sweaty and uncomfortable while you’re trying to sleep. However, there are miraculous bed sheets specifically designed to help you stay cooler while you sleep. We’re big fans of these cooling sheets from PeachSkinSheets ($109.95) because they help regulate your body temperature and wick away moisture while remaining breathable and comfy all night long.
Staying cool during summer is the name of the game, and sometimes the battle is most easily won with the simplest of weapons. Load up on cold beverages, popsicles, fruit, and other cool foods throughout the day and hang out in the lower levels of your house (like the living room in your basement) during the hottest parts of the day.