My house had extraordinary bills during the first year that I owned it. I nearly sold it because of the AC cost. Replacing the whole house unit would have cost over $20,000. I had no where near that amount of money- it was more than I made in a year.
Through research, guesswork and technology, I found ways to lower the bills without sweating in the heat every day.
Some of these tips are available at no cost. Others have a relatively low cost, but will pay for themselves in energy savings. Here are ten ways to lower your energy bills without breaking the bank.
One: Before I left for the day, I would close the vents in every room except the living room where my cats were. All doors were closed. I found I could set the thermostat higher by doing this. My bills lowered dramatically. I wanted to lower them more.
Two: I spent a whopping $25 for a new digital thermostat. These devices were making their debut on the HVAC and energy saving scene. Three weeks later, I saved more than $45 on the bill. It paid for itself. By now, I was hooked on saving more.
Three: While shopping at my DIY store, I saw solar film for windows similar to that used at my workplace. I bought one box for $50 and covered every window on the direct sun side of the house. Before the film, I had measured 120° on the inside of the window in 80° outside temperatures. After the film, I measured 90°. Magnificent. Removable window films are available for those who rent; it can move with the renter. Some have patterns and pictures that also provide a measure of security.
Four: I had read about insulating curtains for years. While shopping at my favorite fabric store, the cost of this fabric was out of my range. At Target, I found insulating panels I could afford and sew together. These were washable; the whole-cloth fabric was not. I made insulating panels and hung them as fast as I could get them up. The house was cooler. Use insulation inside electrical outlets. These sheets are available at DIY stores for one or two dollars. A single screwdriver is needed for installation. The typical house loses heat or cool air in the same amount as having a 2′ by 3′ window open constantly. These will cut that loss dramatically.
Five: My ceiling fan was inefficient, ugly and loud. I found an Energy Star certified model on a clearance sale. I installed it and turned it on. The room was cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The HVAC system did not have to work as hard.
Six: Properly insulating the attic is a great way to keep your money in your pocket. Summer’s heat can’t get in and wintertime heating can’t escape. It is definitely worth the investment. Landlords should realize that if tenants have to spend too much on energy bills, they will find somewhere else to live. If they can save on the energy bills, they won’t have a problem making the rent.
Seven: Solar screens are easy to install. You can buy the screening material and install it in existing screens. The material stops 80 to 90 percent of the sun’s UV rays. The window film behind it stops even more. What heat does get through is reduced further by the insulating curtains. I loved it.
Eight: Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. Cotton or other natural fibers wick sweat away from the skin. When the circulating air from the ceiling fan hits, the body feels cooler as evaporation takes place.
Nine: Check around doors or windows for leaks. Blocking these leaks prevents summer’s heat from moving inside and winter’s warmth from leaving. Remember a basic rule from physics: heat moves to a cooler area.
Ten: Try to avoid using the oven or stove to cook large items. Roasting a turkey during a heat wave is foolish; the heat makes the AC work harder, which in turn drives up the electric bill. Try to avoid doing loads of laundry with hot water during the heat as well. Install a bathroom vent above the washer and use it when doing laundry to reduce indoor humidity. Dry air feels cooler.
It does not take a lot of money or work to cut your air conditioning costs. Start with one thing at a time- you’ll be surprised at how fast it will add up.
Source: Lora Shinn, “9 Ways To Cool Down Air-Conditioning Costs,” Bankrate website, no date given
Source: Becky Stripe, “14 Ways To Keep Cool In Your Home Without Air Conditioning,” Care2 website, 27 June, 2012
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.