Here in Minnesota, we have not been spared from the hot, hot weather the whole country has been dealing with this year. I don’t know about you, but this MN girl has a tough time with the heat. I am always on the look out for a new idea of how to keep cool and save money while doing it.
Here are some of my favorite ways to beat the heat and save a few bucks in the meantime.
Things you can do right now:
Get wet. Somehow it is all more bearable when you are at the beach (lake or ocean), pool or water park. In our area, the kids can earn free passes to a local water park through the library’s summer reading program, most beaches are free and even local pools offer reasonable rates or have specials for later hours or certain days. Or, go ultra local and set out a sprinkler, make a DIY yard slide, toss some water balloons, or have a battle with the hose.
When you have to be out, try to seek a shady spot, bring along a squirt bottle and pack some wet washcloths to put on the back of your neck or your wrists to help cool you off.
Drink lots. Water is the cheapest, but now might be a fun time to try making your own lemonade or whip up some cool ice treats like granita.
Outsmart the sun. During the hot weather, I draw the shades on the back side of our house before bed, so the morning sunlight will not heat up the house in the morning and I draw the shades on the front side of our house at lunch time, so the afternoon sun will not heat up the house during the day. Even when we choose to use the air conditioner, this helps us use less energy and keeps the air from working overtime. I also try to water and tend the plants in the front of the house during the morning, when it is shady and the plants in the back of the house in the evening, when it is shady there.
Move the air. Use your ceiling fans to keep air circulating. You will feel cooler, allowing you to bump up the setting for the air conditioning a degree or two (or not turn it down more). This year, we bought two standing fans and I am surprised at how much it helps keep the air moving in our main living areas. During the night, we put them in the warmest bedrooms to aide with sound sleep.
Plan your menu wisely. When you plan out your menu, be sure to consider the forecast. Plan meals that use the oven for cooler days. On hot days, grill outside, use only the stovetop, microwave, use a toaster oven or a rice cooker, or use a slow cooker to keep your cooking method from heating the house during the peak energy use (and peak energy rates). Some dishes we love to eat when it is hot out are stir-fry, salads with grilled meat, sandwiches (BLTs are a favorite), fajitas, tacos and taco salad.
Use off-peak energy. Run your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer in the morning or late at night, when energy use has not peaked and energy rates are lower. Better yet, put up a clothesline and put that hot weather to good use drying your clothes.
Long term ideas:
Make sure your air conditioner is mostly in the shade, that will prevent it from over working.
Clean your air conditioner – sweep away or hose off any debris, make sure nothing is too close to it, so it can have adequate air flow. Consider the cost benefit of having a service technician out to clean and maintain your air conditioning unit.
If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, check with your local electric utility. Most offer rebates on purchases of energy efficient models. Also check with your tax accountant, to be sure you don’t miss out on any tax rebates.
Install a programmable thermostat. You can set the temperature to automatically go a bit higher when you are not home. (You can also put this to good use in the winter.)
Pay attention to drafty areas of your house. Chalk any gaps or holes to prevent energy escaping your house.
Plant shade trees that can grow to offer some natural air condition over your house for years to come.
Did I miss anything? Any other great ideas for keeping cool?