Cooling off

Heart & Home

Keep Cool For Less Money, No Matter Where You Live

It’s going to be a rough summer, folks. Thanks to global climate change, we can expect more erratic weather and more extreme temperatures. You’re probably already running your air conditioner 24/7, and racking up a shocking electric bills in the process. If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably already taken the advice of replacing your windows, installing a programmable thermostat, or planting more trees around your house to block out the shade. While these are all super effective, if you don’t own your home, you can’t make a lot of changes to the building in which you live. So, for all you house renters and apartment dwellers, we’ve got a few helpful tips to keep you living more comfortably, and spending less money for the rest of the summer:

Replace Your Light Bulbs
Your standard incandescent bulb is probably the least energy efficient thing in your house. 90% of the energy it produces is heat, while only 10% is light. It’s greener cousin, the fluorescent bulb uses 40% of its energy to create light. Making it cheaper, and cooler, to run. However, the dark side of fluorescents that no one likes to talk about is that due to their mercury content they’re dangerous to the environment once they burn out, or to you if they break. If you’d like to avoid that whole mess, consider LEDs. They’re super energy efficient, have a built-in heat sink, and will probably still light up your place long after you’ve moved out.

Freeze Your Sheets
This sounds a little silly, but people sleep better in cooler temperatures. You must have noticed how much more you toss & turn on hot nights. Running the AC at night wastes a lot of energy, and you’re not even awake to enjoy most of it! Sticking your sheets and pillowcases in the freezer for a few hours before bed will make you as cozy as, well, the cool side of the pillow. It won’t stay cold all night, but it’ll be enough to help you comfortably fall asleep.

Chill Out Your Dinner Routine
When the weather’s blazing, eating out seems like an easy fix for the evening, even though we all know that it’s cheaper to cook for yourself. But don’t turn on the oven! You’ll heat up the whole place for hours! Instead, give your small cooking gear a spin for once. The toaster oven, the hotplate, the bbq grill, the sandwich press your mom gave you for college. There’s all kinds of creative things you can do, without sacrificing comfort. (In fact, we’ve even done you the solid of finding some easy recipes.) But if the heat has already worn you out, do something simply, with no cooking required. Have a salad, or a veggies-in-hummus dip-athon! It will help you feel cooler, inside and out.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of Your Apartment
Sure, you have to live there, but you don’t have to stay there all the time. Take advantage of free places you can go, and stay cool. Read a book at your public library. Keep track of promotional free days at local museums. Find your city’s cooling center. Relax in a park under the shade of a tree. And every once in a while, it’s okay to go to a friend’s place and mooch off of their AC for the afternoon. (Though, they’ll probably return the favor pretty soon.)

[Pic via Flickr - thrp]

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