Oregon’s summer is on its way and the age-old question comes to mind: how do we keep ourselves cool in the summer without spending an entire paycheck on the power bill? Being conscious that Pacific Power has stated that they charge on average about 11 cents more per kilowatt used during the summer months, which for them is May 1st through September 31st, families on a budget know that a high powered air conditioner is not a cost effective option. However, there are many ways we can at least cut down some of the heat and make the horrible summer heat just a little more bearable.
The obvious tip is to unplug all of your appliances and electronics that aren’t in use. Not only do these products take up unnecessary electricity, but they also are always radiating heat into the air. Unplugging them will cut out a bit of that electric heat and save money.
Secondly, keep your windows, blinds, and curtains closed during the day. The sunlight will make it hotter in your home, and keeping your house dark will make a large difference in the temperature. Also, turn off the lights. Lights generate heat just as easily as the sun shining in, so keep the lights off as long as possible. Furthermore, switch your light bulbs from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents. Fluorescents use less electricity and generate less heat. At night, open up all the windows and doors to create a breeze and keep as many of them open as possible until you wake up.
During the hot summer days, we all want to be lazy and stay on the couch with ice on our faces. However, there is still cleaning to be done, yard work to do, and daily chores and errands. Make sure to keep as many major movement tasks outside as possible. Movement creates heat which heats up the house. When you exercise, exercise outside. When you fold clothes, do it outside. When you cook dinner, try to BBQ as much as possible.
In addition to trying to cook outside as much as possible, remember to try and use your major appliances as little as possible during the hours between 2pm and 8pm, according to Pacific Power. This is the hottest part of the day and major appliances generate a lot of heat, especially a dryer, dishwasher, or oven. Furthermore, those hours are the peak hours and it will likely cost you more money to run your appliances then.
Another really cheap way of keeping your house cool is covering the windows with aluminum foil. The reflective quality of the material keeps the sun rays going into the opposite direction. The only downside is that it rips easily when you want to take it off to open the window on a cooler day. Using foam board, aluminum foil, and glue, however, you can make a much prettier and sturdier reflective covering. Here is a website with a great set of directions for making your own pretty aluminum window covers: http://www.emilygertz.com/apartmentecology/2008/06/beat-the-heat-for-cheap-reflec.html
By: Cristina Himka