This is really a post about saving money on heat and cooling your home/apartment/mansion but since winter is on its way out, I will focus on the cooler part. No one, after all, likes to get sweaty right after taking a shower.
1. Open your windows.
This tip won’t help once its in the upper 90s, but for late spring when its just starting to get hot its great. If you can open windows across the house from each other you can great a significant cross breeze.
2. Turn your cieling fans to the Summer setting.
That means the blade turns in a counter clockwise direction and pushes air down. The hotter air will sit above the fan and not circulate. Did you know it will feel a good 5 degrees cooler under a ceiling fan? Some companies claim it can feel even cooler with ceiling fans. If you have ceiling fans in the rooms you use every day, you can set your thermostat warmer. Speaking of thermostats…
3. Install a programmable thermostat.
All you renters, I am sorry you don’t have this option (though if you ask your landlord they might install one for you). We installed a programmable thermostat in our house this last January. It only cost us about $40 (can’t remember the exact price) and we got at the local big box store. Our heating bill was much lower than last year, and we had a crawler/new walker on our hands. There is only so many times you can let your child crawl on the floor and come back to you with chilled hands and feet. Anyway, I figured if we could decrease our bills by $3.30 eah month we would pay for the thermostat by the end of the year. Even with a 11% rate hike by the utility company we saw a decreace in our overall bill.
4. Get thermal window treatments.
Our house came with some cheapo blinds, but if its not broke don’t fix it. Last fall I decided we needed curtains. Partly because the blinds had tiny holes in them so people could see in at night when our lights were on, and partly because winter of 07-08 we had a $160 heating bill one month, and I did not want to repeat that. Fall of 2008 I was on a mission. I sewed one curtain panel that I lined with polyester fabric, and after discovering I cannot sew a straight line, I decided to price curtains.
I went to the local box store and looked at what they had and decided on some thick fabric curtains. Then when we were going to leave I noticed they had some curtains at the end of the aisle marked clearance. Of course the discounted price drew me in and I started putting my initial choice back on the shelf. Among the marked down drapes were a set of thermal lined curtains in a shade that would go nicely with my living room. After fruther incestigation I found the same drapes on the shelf for twice the price! These drapes had been returned and the store just marked them down to sell them fast.
The rest of the thermal curtains in our house were bought one window / room at a time. Its made the drafty windows feel less drafty.
5. Can I get some caulk?
After living the winter with a blanket literally nailed up covering our fireplace all winter, I found out about cement caulk / furnace caulk. It typically comes in black and its meant to go between the doors and the black fireplace. And I thought it would require hiring a professional to take out the fireplace door/cover thingy and putting in more insulation. Now, I just need to spend my $10 and get some.
Around the fireplace cover isn’t the only place where caulk will help. Any place where there is an opening to the outside you shuld caulk. Around doors, windows, trim on the outside and inside. If there is a crack, chances are caulking it wold be a good idea. We did some major caulking and sealing of holes last year after discovering a mouse got in and had babies. Spring is a good time to check the old caulk and if its cracked or separating, replace it. There is nothing worse than ants in the springtime.
6. Upgrade your windows.
This isn’t for everyone, in fact its not something you can do anything about if you aren’t an owner. Its also quite pricey. I priced windows and supplies and to replace the 6 windows in our home it will cost about $1000 for supplies. While part of that is tax deductible (supplies only because the windows are energy star rated), its a huge project. Especially the two windows in the upstairs. That will require assistance, and possibly borrowed or rented scaffolding. If we paid someone to do it, even just the two windows on the second floor, it will increase the cost significantly. Still, the new vinyl windows are leaps and bounds above the 30 year old metal framed with poor seals that are currently in place.
So there you go. Some things are simple, raising the thermostat two degree, turning on a fan, or opening some windows; others will cost thousands of dollars and some hard work. Try doing at least one of these and see if you can save money keeping cool this summer.