Here in Houston, it is fair to say that during the summer and surrounding months (read: 90 percent of the year) we have become quite adept at finding ways to keep the sweat away. Some may argue that iced tea, lemonade, water, or an ice cold soda will provide the most satisfying way to refresh yourself on a hot summer day, but the truth is – and we’ve all experienced it – in the Houston area, just going outside to grab your mail in the summertime can leave you looking like you just finished a workout at the gym by the time you return to your front door.
Those who love summer only need a nice swimming pool and sometimes more than one shower a day! While those kinds of people could just turn off the AC and have a glass of water, there are many that simply don’t feel comfortable sitting in an 80 degree house. And if friends come to visit, most will want to turn their air conditioning down so their guests will be comfortable. Here, then, we arrive at the second problem the summer heat gives us in the summer- the electricity bill.
At first glance, it would seem that these problems are irreversibly tied to one another. We have two choices: keep the house cool for comfort, but pay more in electricity. Or keep the the bill low, but be uncomfortable (and say goodbye to having friends over).
So, how do we load up our double-shot slingshot and keep our home cool without wrecking our finances? When you live in Houston, it is never too early in the year to discuss some steps you can take now to keep your money in your pocket this coming summer. Here are some practical – and best of all, completely FREE – ways to keep your home cool and your wallet full.
- Know which direction your windows face.
- Do your windows face east or west? As the sun sets in the evening, windows that face west will allow more heat into the home than windows facing the east. Why? As the sun rises and begins to shine into your east-facing windows, your home fights back the heat with the coolness of the night. It takes a while to counteract the lower temperatures of the morning than when the sun has been radiating full heat on your poor home all day. As the sun sets, your house, which has been heating up all day, receives more direct sunlight in the evening if you have west-facing windows.
- Keep your curtains closed during the daylight hours as well as in the early evening in order to keep your home as cool as possible. Dark, heavy curtains are best because they will block and absorb the heat, keeping the room cooler.
- Keep your AC on but turned up while you are away at work.
- Turning the air conditioning off while you are away from the house can seem like a good idea. But turning it off only heats up the house and makes the air conditioner work much harder when you do turn it back on. This wastes money and can leave you hot as the AC works to cool the house back down to your desired temperature.
- While you are at work, keep your AC turned up just a few degrees higher than you normally would. This will save you money and ensure that you will come back to a cool(ish) house when you get home. The AC won’t need to work so hard when you do turn it back down, thus saving you electricity and your hard-earned money in the long run.
- Check your fans.
- The blades on your ceiling fans are angled so that, as they spin, they will push air up or down. Think of it this way: the blades on your fan act as a slide for the air to ride on. If the blades spin one way, the air will get pushed along the surface of the blade and down onto your head, making it cooler.
- Most fans have a switch that, when set to the other direction, will cause the blades to spin the opposite way. This could cause the air to flow a bit better, but have it feel much warmer in the room. It’s definitely worth testing to see what works for you!
So there you have it! No buying reflective materials, no using special paint, no installations, no buying insulation. Of course, all of those are helpful, but with just these three small changes, you will hopefully see some immediate relief without having to worry about adding any expense to your budget.
Now with all of that money you saved, you can buy a bigger grill. We’ll bring the sodas!
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