I woke up this morning, and it was already 85 degrees outside. Summertime in Texas or anywhere for that matter is gonna be hot! With the mercury rising, so does the cost of keeping our homes comfortable. I have come up with some short term and long term ideas to help keep our budgets cool.
What I can do now; I don’t know about you, but I have to have my morning coffee to jump start my brain. But, a hot cup of coffee doesn’t seem like a good idea when I am already sweltering; so how about yesterday’s coffee that I stored in the fridge and make a frosty ice coffee concoction. Talk about killing two birds; I am saving on coffee and staying a little cooler. Also taking a cool shower and dressing in light loose fitting clothing to help my body stay comfortable. I also let my hair dry naturally, adding some beach waves hair gel to get that summer beach look.
I took a walk around my house, to see where I can save some pennies. I made sure my ceiling fans were turning forward or counter-clockwise to push the cool air downward. Checked my thermostat; set the timer to turn up during the day, and down at night.
I also made sure all windows were closed tightly and made sure all windows had sufficient window shades and were closed. Mini blinds and insulated or thermal drapery can be bought fairly inexpensively; a little shopping around to find the best prices.
I also turned down the temperature on the water heater, about 110 degrees. Speaking of temperatures, I set my dishwasher to air dry instead of heat dry and set the water to energy saving mode. I also decided to use Mother Nature to dry my laundry instead of using the dryer; why add more heat when it’s already hot. I have a clothes rack in my laundry room that works perfectly. I checked the temperature on my refrigerator, making sure it was at manufacturer setting. I also made sure my light bulbs were LED or CFL bulbs. The old style incandescent bulbs actually put off more heat than lighting; and made sure lights were off in rooms not in use. I checked the power strips on my TV and office electronics, making sure they were up to date and the energy saving kind. You can find these at any electronics store and they are reasonably priced.
As for helping me to avoid a meltdown, I make sure I am drinking plenty of water, and if I have to run errands, I am going to do it early in the day, before it gets too hot out there.
What I can do to invest in long term savings; There are many ways to make sure your castle is energy efficient. Starting from the top; invest in whirly birds and insulation for your attic. Go for lighter colors to deflect the heat for your roof instead of the dark colors which absorb heat. Make sure walls are properly insulated. The department of energy; energy.gov has the guidelines you need to be properly insulated. There is also a Weatherization Assistance Program link to help low income families. A lot of air escapes through windows; make sure they are sealed and updated for better efficiency. I have a huge window in my living room, so I invested in window tinting. I used Window Genie. They have different types of tinting to fit your budget. Make sure appliances are rated for energy efficiency; Energy Star.gov is a good source for guidelines for your appliances. They also have a rebate finder link.
Alternative Energy; Since we are making sure our home is up to date, why don’t we check our options for alternative energy. Solar panels have become much easier to come by, and there are many companies that install panels with little or no money down. Solar panels can reduce your energy costs dramatically and there are several different types of programs you can choose, from leasing to buying. Some websites I found are solarcity.com, solarpowerforyourhome.com and solarhome.org. I couldn’t find much information on wind energy. There are co-ops and companies that offer wind energy, but I don’t think the savings is quite there yet.
If alternative isn’t the way to go, and you want to stick with regular electricity, be sure to compare and shop for rates on kilowatt hours to make sure you are getting the best deal. The smaller companies are piggybacking on the main power lines, so you are paying the small company rate plus the carrier rate. Also make sure you are on a fixed kwh rate, sometimes they are variable; from time a day to how many kwh’s you use in a month. My carrier offers free nights and weekends, this works great for my household, since nights and weekends is when the usage is heaviest.
I hope some of these ideas will help you stay cooler this summer, and if you have any ideas you would like to share just comment in my email!