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Summertime a Little Easier on You and Your Pocketbook
The United States is blessed with a wide range of climate types, from the cool and
moist Northeast to the hot and arid Southwest. While there are a few places like
Southern California that rarely experience great temperature extremes, most of us
are going to endure a hot summer of some length. Summer is a double-edged sword
when it comes to utility bills; you save money because you're not paying to heat
your house. However, temperatures often climb so high that you need to cool your
living space. These appliances can cost you quite a bit, but with a little effort
and preparation, you can keep yourself comfortable while keeping your home cooling
Texas energy bills as low as possible.
First of all, know your primary enemy! Air conditioning is the
biggest electricity drain in your home. The Energy Information Administration reports
that approximately 15% of all of the electricity used in the United States is devoted
to air conditioning. So approximately 15% of your Texas electricity bill is dedicated
to your air conditioning usage. That's a stunning figure, considering all of the
different ways we use the juice. In fact, the number of households equipped with
A/C continues to rise. In 1980, 27% of American homes had central air conditioning;
by 2001, that number rose to 55%. Therefore, you will want to...
- Use air conditioning sparingly. Just as you might keep your
thermostat at 64 degrees in the winter instead of 68, exercise the will power to
refrain from turning on central air or window-mounted units until absolutely necessary.
- Install an advance digital control for your home heating and cooling system. In
the past, you might simply turn a dial to control your furnace or A/C. Today, you
can make use of a control system that allows you to keep these appliances off when
you aren't at home, in addition to many other automatic options.
- Make sure you're not accidentally tricking your thermostat. If you have a lamp beside your thermostat,
the heat from the bulb will make your thermostat think the room is a couple degrees
warmer than it really is. Even though it's a small difference, it adds up over time.
A cheaper alternative to air conditioning is the simple and
noble fan. One of the big advantages of including fans in your home cooling plan
is the sheer variety of fans on the market. Instead of cooling an entire house,
you might just be comfortable enough if you sleep with a small table fan in your
- Consider installing a"whole house" fan. According to MSN Money, these fans
are placed in the attic of your home and pull the air from your living space.
Even better, this simple fan can cool your home about one third as much as air
conditioning, but at much lower cost. Bear in mind that the fan can cost between
$200 and $400 if you install it yourself. This up-front expenditure is paid
for in long-term energy savings.
- Place reversible window fans in rooms you use quite a bit. In the morning,
set the fan to pull in the cool air. In the afternoon, when the heat starts
to hit, flick the switch to exhaust.
One surprising way to beat the summer heat is to change your home decor, both
interior and exterior.
- Remember: dark colors absorb heat from sunlight, while lighter colors tend
to reflect those rays, sending the heat elsewhere. Putting white curtains and
blinds on your windows will help you keep your room a little cooler.
- Place furniture in such a way that it won't interfere with your heating
and cooling vents. For example, if you place your sofa in a place that will
block the flow of cool, conditioned air, the room will stay warm and your central
air system will work that much harder.
- Close the curtains and drapes on your windows during the day. According
to the Department of Energy, this will prevent"solar gain," or a temperature
increase due to the greenhouse effect caused by sunlight being caught inside
No matter how carefully you prepare for the heat, you're never
going to make every summer day comfortable. During those excruciating days when
even central air isn't enough, you might just be best off making yourself an ice-cold
glass of lemonade and reading a good book in the shade.