Saturday, June 28, 2014

Avoiding the A/C For As Long As Possible

Living in the final stretch of hours when I can assure the A/C will not be turned on.  My husband returns from a business trip to England in a few hours.  His return to the homefront will spark our perpetual debate -- what indoor temperature is tolerable>  It's a Ying-Yang relationship.  During the winter months he is loathe to turn the heat up past 62 degrees.  A wee bit cold for my tastes, but he plays off my frugal side and quantifies the savings by low degrees on the thermostat.  And he always counters with "you can put a sweater on -- and a scarf."  However, when summer roles around we change position on the argument. He is quick to turn on the A/C, a byproduct of his seemingly warmer body temperature and his upbringing in the South where a home without A/C is nearly unheard of.  But he married a Yankee, one whose youth was typical 1970s.  When it got hot outside you slept in your underwear with a fan on.  As I type, that is exactly what our children are doing!  Here are a few more ideas on how to keep the home cool during the dog days of summer without running the A/C:

  • Embrace hardwood or surface floors.  Remove your shoes and go barefoot, it will cool you down. Remove rugs and put them away until the leaves start to turn golden;
  • Shade windows.  Think long term and plant trees in southern windows to provide natural shade during the summer.  Pull window coverings down or shut to keep the sun rays from penetrating and driving up the interior temperature;
  • Sleep with a fan and "light" clothing;
  • Avoid using the oven and minimize stove use -- why intentionally heat up the inside of your house.  Meals of sandwiches, salads, fruits, cheese, cold cuts, beans -- all healthy, and most do not require much if any heating;
  • Banish the dryer.  For those without allergy concerns, dry clothes on an outside line.  If, like our frugal home, allergies are a problem, dry inside on a rack and or line.  This is the first summer we've taken this route.  Our dryer is on its last legs and loads take twice as long to dry.  We've opted for indoor drying even though it causes the dehumidifier to run a bit more.  Avoiding the heat generated by the dryer off-sets the increased energy use of the dehumidifier -- or says my husband, an electrical engineer.  I take his word on this fact;
  • Keep lights off, and if you can, use ones with LED bulbs.  Again, the energy output, thus heat, is much lower;
  • Enjoy FREE A/C -- libraries, movie theatres, shopping malls, museums -- focus on the free ones, and leave your credit cards at home taking just enough cash to pay for admission.  Using the free A/C but blowing your budget on impulse buys at the mall does not do much for keeping your home A/C use low;
  • Camp in your backyard or basement at night; and
  • Use window fans at night to suck in cooler air, thus forcing out the warmer air inside.  Just check the weather first to make sure it really is cooler outdoors -- sometimes temperatures and humidity rise at night.
Those are my little tricks of the frugal life trade.  What ways to you stay frugally cool in the summer?  Leave a comment on the blog, or follow the discussion on the Facebook page (click here).

Image by M. Gustafson Gervasi, Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison, WI

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