Imagine yourself after a good workout at the gym – you figure, ‘let me sit in the sauna a few minutes to let the heat relax these muscles’. So you do, you sit there, absorbing all the heat, and it feels great! After a few minutes, you motion towards the door, but it doesn’t open. You try again, but it doesn’t budge. A minutes go by, almost an hour – still, nothing. There is no way out. Unless you’ve developed some superhuman ability that makes you immune to that kind of heat, that image was probably altogether pretty unpleasant to you. And in the hot summer months, quite frankly, it can sometimes feel like you’re stuck in a sauna in your very own home. It’s tempting to crank down the AC, but if you do, your energy bill will knock you unconscious if the heat didn’t already get you. So, below are creative ways to stay cool while keeping your energy bills low.
Don’t Let the Sun Come Down on You
Was this Sir Elton John’s plea to the sun one particularly blistering summer? Probably not, but as far as our ‘staying cool the cheap way’ discussion goes, he might have been onto something. This first way is simple: the sun is a big hot ball of gas. If you let its rays beat down on your house all day, you’re going to end up with that sauna we talked about earlier. To avoid this, draw your blinds down, or better yet – invest in some black-out curtains. Sure, they’re pricier than ones you’d normally get, but it’s a one-time purchase that will last you a long time (really, how often do you switch out your curtains, anyway?)
Throw Some Shade Up
This one is obvious: if you sit under shade, it automatically feels like it’s 10 degrees cooler. The logic is the same when it comes to your house: put it under shade, and it will get cooler! Now, if you can find a way to drill a giant beach umbrella down the center of your house, then great – but if not, getting some tree shade or installing some awnings around your house will work almost just as well.
Thank Your Fans
You don’t even have to be famous to do this, but if you haven’t already, go get yourself some fans – floor fans, exhaust fans, ceiling fans – they are your best friends in the hot months. Although you probably won’t get a whole house cooled down with your fans, they’re great for targeted cooling; direct one at you before you go to bed so you don’t wake up in a pool of sweat, or leave a floor fan on before you leave for work so you pet can keep cool. To some degree, fans can also suck hot air out of a space: try installing an exhaust fan on a window. Also, don’t forget to check that your ceiling fans are spinning counter-clockwise during warmer seasons – this will help move breeze around (vs. clockwise will help distribute heat).
Keep Your Cool
As in, keep your body cool. If you can’t keep the temperature down in the house, you can try ways to keep your temps down. There are the obvious ways, like consuming pop sickles, cold lemonade, frozen margaritas or ice water (lest you find yourself in a drunken stupor AND high blood sugar on the daily). You can also try taking a cold shower, but instead of reaching for that towel, try air drying; water evaporating from your skin will keep you cool for longer. There’s also things your mama told you, like wearing loose clothing made of light fabric, like cotton.
On second thought, maybe you do want that sun coming down on you…
If it seems like you’ve tried everything from every list off the internet on creative ways to stay cool while keeping your energy bills low, and you STILL want to put that AC on full blast, then make the enemy your friend and GO SOLAR. It seems like a lot of money up front, but it does yield tremendous cost-saving in the long run, and if it means that you can have all the air conditioning you want year-round and be guilt-free about it, it might be worth a shot!