Prepping for Summer: The High Cost of Keeping Cool

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Tired of ridiculous summer energy costs? Take some control of the situation by arming yourself with knowledge. With a few simple tips, a little work, and perhaps a change of habit you could be on your way to skinnier bills in no time. 

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Below are some simple ways to get started in the war on high summer energy costs. Some of them may seem obvious, but use what you can from the list to improve your odds at keeping cool… and keeping some money in your wallet. Have additional ideas? Leave a comment for our readers.

The list:

Make the switch: Switching to flourescent bulbs will not only save you money in the long run, but they put off significantly less heat.

Become a fan of fans: Installing ceiling fans can produce a breeze that will allow you to reduce the feel of the overall temperature in the room and use the AC less. If you already have fans installed be sure to set them so that the air blows in a downward direction. Be sure that you have a good attic fan installed to remove some of the excess heat from the attic. Also, be sure that the attic is adequatetly ventilated. Temperatures can exceed 140 degrees up there in the hot summer sun.

Curtain call: Draw those curtains. You may not want to live in a cave, but blocking out the sun during the hottest parts of the day can make a big impact on your overall cooling expense. Block off any rooms that you won't see much traffic throughout the day and if you're leaving the house for the day, darken everything until you get home.

Put a seal on it: This is as important in the summer as it is in the winter. Keep the hot air out and the cool air in by sealing up cracks and crevices around windows and doors.  

Insulate to save: While it may not seem important for summer months, this has a great deal of impact on your summer cooling bills. If your insulation is not up to par, heat will find its way into your home and combat your cooling efforts.

Use your green thumb to save some green: Plant life creates shade. Not only will this have an effect on the overall look of your home, but the shade will help dramatically in your campaign against high summer cooling costs. Plenty of shade producing plant life on the south and west sides of your home will keep the hot summer sun off of the exterior of your building. A deciduous tree that loses its leaves in the winter and allows the sun to warm your home would be best.

Find some money in the dryer: Blocked dryer vents prevent the hot air from escaping properly and can cause some of that heat to find its way back into your home.

Keep daytime low-maintenance: Try to limit use of heat producing devices to early morning or late evening when it won't be so difficult to keep your home cool. Things like ovens, dryers, slow cookers, and computers put off a great deal of heat.

Determine your comfort zone: Set your AC to the highest comfortable level in the summer. Even 1 degree difference can make a big impact on your overall cooling bill.

Give your AC some space: Be sure your AC unit or thermostat are far enough away from heat producing electronics. The heat from the electronics may 'fool' your AC into running unnecessarily.

Care for your AC: Make sure your AC unit is clean and free of debris. Remove obstructions from the condenser and hose off any dirt that has gathered on it. Change your filters frequently in the summer months to allow clear airflow.

Take your AC high tech: Consider a new digital programmable thermostat. These new devices, often available through your power company, will allow you to program the AC for higher temperatures when your home will be vacant and cooler temperatures for when you'll be home.

Have it made in the shade: Install awnings over windows that are exposed to direct sunlight.

Take advantage of cool temperatures: If evening outdoor temperatures fall below your target indoor temperature, open windows to cool your home naturally.

Shut the door: Limit trips in and out of doors. Every time you open them, you let a little of the cool out and the heat in.