|Frugal Living for the
Cool Summer Savings
by Jeffrey Strain
SavingAdvice.com - http://www.savingadvice.com
The summer heat is here in full force and that means BBQs, swimming pools
and higher energy bills as you try to keep your cool. The good news is that
if you apply a few common sense ideas and solutions to tackle the heat, that
energy bill doesn't have to be near as high as it has been in the past.
The first place to begin is to go directly to the source and give your air
conditioner the once over. Spending a little on prevention up front can save
a bundle down the road. If you haven't had someone come by to give your air
conditioner a check-up in awhile, it is time to do so. Make sure that the
coils are cleaned, there is plenty of refrigerant and check that all the
filters are clean and don't need to be replaced.
If your air conditioner is more than a few years old, it may be time to
replace it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that half of
the average home's energy bill comes from heating and cooling. Purchasing a
new air conditioner and heating equipment with an EPA approved Energy Star
rating label can reduce your overall energy bill anywhere from 10 to 40
percent and replacing an air conditioner 10 years old can cut your cooling
costs by up to half.
The next step is to update you home's cooling control panel. If you don't
already have a programmable thermostat, it's time to invest in one since
this investment will usually pay itself off in well under a year and as
quickly as a few months. Constantly adjusting your thermostat not only makes
it difficult for you to get comfortable, it wastes a lot of energy. A
programmable thermostat will keep your home at your desired temperature much
more efficiently than you can do by hand. It also allows you to turn off the
air conditioner when you aren't at home and begin cooling down the house
even before you arrive back home. In addition, purchasing a ceiling fan can
also be a wise investment. It will allow you to use your air conditioner
less in the cooler morning and evening hours, and will help spread the cool
air throughout the room when you are using it.
The landscaping around you house will directly effect you energy bill. Rock,
asphalt and cement in non shaded areas around the south or west sides of
your house will increase your energy costs since those materials will raise
the level of heat around your home. The Department of Energy estimates that
replacing those materials with deciduous trees (they provide shade in the
summer when they're in full bloom and sun in the winter when their leaves
have fallen) can save you $100 to $250 a year in cooling and heating costs.
In addition, you want to make sure that your landscaping provides shade for
your air conditioning unit, but with enough free space so that air flow is
For areas that can't be shaded by landscaping, make sure that rooms that get
direct sunlight have curtains or shades that can be drawn shut during the
day. It may also be worth the investment to treat south facing windows with
heat reflecting films.
Another major cause of rising heat in our home is the use of appliances.
Running your dishwasher, oven, washer and dryer will all increase the heat
inside your house making your air conditioner work that much harder. Save
these activities for the cooler evening or early morning hours whenever
possible. Lights that give off heat, TVs and stereos also will increase the
temperature in the house so reducing their use will save you money. It's
important that any of these electrical devices is not placed near your
thermostat since the thermostat can sense the heat given off by them which
will cause your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to.
Escaping cool air can also be a major problem in keeping you comfortable and
not making your air conditioner work harder than it needs to. Caulking air
leaks in doors and window frames will be well worth the investment. In the
same sense, close the cooling vents in rooms that are rarely used as well as
the room doors. Also keep all your closet doors closed since there is no
need to spend the money cooling the areas of the house that you are not
Opening and shutting doors to the outside can significantly increase your
cooling costs. If you have pets, consider installing a pet door to save
energy. Holding doors open for pets while they make up their mind whether to
go out or stay in increases the load on your air conditioner. This activity
can be extra costly in summer since people often lower their thermostat to
combat the humidity that comes in. It also pays to carefully use your
ventilating fans in the kitchen, bathroom and other areas. Leaving these on
can suck out an entire houseful of cooled air in an hour, so be sure to turn
them off after they have done their job.
As you can see, staying comfortable during the summer heat doesn't have to
mean a large energy bill in the mail. Use the hints provided to help reduce
your cooling costs and stay comfortable for a fraction of what it has been
costing you. That is definitely the way to keep your cool.
Jeffrey Strain has published hundreds of money saving
articles and the creator of the www.savingadvice.com/program.php"Daily Money
Saving Challenge Program/A. He is also the co-owner of A HREF="http://www.savingadvice.comSavingAdvice.com/A,
a website dedicated to saving you money.
This article provided by the Family Content Archives at: http://www.Family-Content.com
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