Monday, June 7, 2010

Cooling Your Home on a Tight Budget

Cooling a home during warmer months can be aggravating, especially when battling a tight budget. Rather than getting hot under the collar when the electric bill arrives, keep your cool. The following tips can alleviate the summer sizzle and help maintain a tight home cooling budget.

Remember those movies in which sailors seal hatches to keep water from pouring into their storm struck ship? Well, on a hot day, you’re the captain of the S.S. Tight Budget, and it’s your job to keep out warm air. The same spaces that allow cold air to seep into homes during the winter, may allow warm air inside during the summer. It is therefore important to inspect the following areas:

* Window seals
* Doors
* Seldom used rooms
* Attic
* Basement

Holding a lighted candle or even just your hand in front of windows or doors can help detect airflow from cracks. Caulking or sealing these spaces may decrease air seepage. Also, you might consider partitioning areas that aren’t used frequently. Closing doors and vents to unused rooms when cooling a home can make a difference of five to ten degrees or more. Ensuring an attic is properly insulated can maintain a tight budget as well.

It’s amazing just how much appliances can add to the temperature of a room or home. Dishwashers, ovens, toasters, refrigerators, washers and dryers all produce heat that can bust an already tight budget. If it’s necessary to use these items when cooling a home, consider the following:

* Use a microwave instead of stove or oven for cooking
* Use appliances at night when energy rates and temperatures are typically lower
* Use cold water to wash clothes
* Dry clothes outside
* Air dry dishes
* Vacuum refrigerator coils and vents every couple months

Don’t forget, even items such as televisions, lights/light bulbs, stereos, DVR, DVD, and CD players emit heat that can hurt your chances of cooling a home.

Ambient light is a leading cause in increasing room temperature and can destroy any chance of cooling a home while abiding by tight budget constraints. There are several ways to combat this solar foe.

* Close blinds/curtains on sunny days
* Plant trees/shrubs to block sunlight
* Use awnings

On the other hand, Mother Nature can be used to your advantage. Opening windows allows breezes to cool a home and can be a great money saver. Using fans to circulate air can save on a tight budget and be particularly helpful in cooling a home.

If you are looking for a new air conditioner, bigger isn’t always better. Larger units may run for shorter periods and eat up more electricity when cooling a home. If you find it necessary to run an air conditioning unit, consider using a programmable thermostat. This can allow you to leave the air off, or set it at a higher temperature during times when you are away, thereby cooling a home on a tight budget more effectively.

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