The biggest part of a summer electric bill is the energy used by an air conditioning system, which consumes a whopping 3,500 kWh of power every time it’s turned on. One easy way to lower our summer cooling costs is to use the air conditioner as little as possible and rely on cheaper ways to cool our homes.
Circulating fans or box fans placed throughout the house is one easy way we keep our house cool during the summer months. Moving air is 5-8 degrees cooler than stagnant air, which means that a stuffy 80-degree house will “feel” a comfortable 72-75 degrees. Here are five other ways that our family cools our house on the cheap.
Faux bamboo blinds. My west-facing kitchen will reach temps of 90 degrees during the summer and even higher when I’m home-canning produce or cooking dinner. To prevent the sun’s heat from getting inside the kitchen, we hang cheap bamboo blinds on the outside of the window to keep the kitchen temperatures at a cool 75 degrees. Cheap faux bamboo blinds start at $6 and will last for years with proper care.
Plant hops to shade south-facing exterior siding. Vertical gardening not only saves space, it can also create quick shade on the exterior of your home. I grow pole beans on a trellis, which shades the south side of my single-story bedroom; for two-story homes, hop plants can be trained to climb up 25-foot sections of twine stretched from the ground to the roof eaves for cheap shade.
Keep the draperies closed. As tempting as it may be to let the sunlight enter your home, all that sunshine can raise internal temperatures by 15-20 degrees. Another cheap way to keep your home cool is to close the draperies on windows that are in direct sun, opening them only after the sun has shifted off the glass panes. If you have mini blinds like I do, tilting the blinds to refract the light outside will keep a room 10-15 degrees cooler than tilting the blinds the opposite direction.
No cooking or baking after 1 p.m. Kitchen appliances such as stoves, range tops, and dishwashers will also heat up a kitchen 10 degrees or more. To prevent heat from entering my kitchen, I set my dishwasher to run at night and do all of my baking in the early morning. Evening meals usually consist of foods that can be served chilled or grilled outdoors to avoid heating up the kitchen needlessly.
Open the windows in the morning. We have a “whole house fan” in our home, which uses positive pressure to draw cool, fresh morning air through open windows while pushing out the warm stale air up into the attic and out the gable vents. Our whole house fan can cool our home in 20 minutes or less using a fraction of the energy of an air conditioning system. If you don’t have a whole house fan to cool your home, a cheaper alternative is to open the windows in the morning and use box fans to draw the cool air indoors and stale air outside.
More by This Contributor:
How to Save Energy and Lower Summer Air Conditioning Costs
Seven Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Cool in the Summer
Easy Home Repair Tasks That Will Boost Summer Cooling Efficiency