If you live in an older home that isn’t well insulated and has leaky windows, you may be shocked when you get that first air conditioning bill. Unless you have enough money to replace all your windows and add insulation to your house, you may be at odds about how to bring the cost down. Of course, the first course of action should be to turn the thermostat up a degree or two. If you’ve already done that, these tips worked for me without breaking my budget.
The thing about fans is that they don’t really cool you unless you are in the room, so having fans, even ceiling fans, running all day is using more electricity than it’s worth. The best way to use fans is to have them blowing directly on you to help evaporate your perspiration and keep your body cooler. I’ve found that I can turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees if I have a fan blowing on me.
Room Darkening Shades –
Old-fashioned pull-down shades may not be the most attractive things on earth, but they insulate better than those cute mini blinds. Be sure to get room darkening shades, because the less sunlight that comes into the room, the less heat that’s generated. Also, cut the blinds to fit snugly inside the window frame to cover all the cracks around the windows edges.
Insulated Drapes –
Again, not the prettiest things around, and if you buy them new, they can be expensive. I got mine very cheap at a thrift store in a nice, neutral color. You can dress them up with a colorful valance made from a cut-down cardboard box and some cute cheap fabric and make matching swags for when you want them open. Be sure they cover the window completely — floor length is best — and try to find rods that allow them to wrap around the sides instead of leaving openings at either side.
The more humid your house is, the hotter it feels. While air conditioning cools in part by removing humidity from the air, an older unit may not be very efficient at this. A dehumidifier can pick up the slack and make you feel cooler at higher temperatures. Living in humid Florida, I found this really did help keep me more comfortable and allowed me to wait longer to turn my air on when it started to get hot.
Rearrange Your Furniture –
make sure that your furniture is arranged as close to the vents as possible. You don’t want to keep the television cool, you want to keep yourself cool. By sitting closer to the source of the cool air, you may be able to turn that thermostat up another degree or two, especially if you also have that fan blowing on you.
I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me. Doing these relatively inexpensive things can save you enough money over a season to invest in some of that insulation you need.
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