How to Cool Your Home on a Budget - Summer Savings Series
Content and Blog Post: Katie Cullum, White County
Keeping cool during an Arkansas summer is not easy, especially on a budget. Some
of the tips below can be done today. Others may require more time, effort and resources,
but will pay off in the long run.
Inside the House
Tips to Keep You Cool Inside
Use fans. Ceiling fans, box fans, whatever! Ceiling fans make the room feel cooler because they create a breeze that helps evaporate perspiration. Just remember to turn them off if no one is in the room. The electricity from running fans is much less than you would pay to run your A/C.
Air Conditioning - Set your thermostat as high as you are comfortable with. Start by increasing just a degree or two and keep going up. You might keep it higher than you think you can! Get a breeze going by turning on the fans! For every degree above 72°F, you will save 5% on cooling costs. Check out this information on thermostats from energy.gov.
Clean air filters, keep return air vents clear. Dirty filters can reduce the efficiency of your system and can block air circulation. Keep return air vents clean of anything (furniture, rugs, drapes, etc.). Check your air filters monthly. Dirty filters restrict air flow and increase energy use. Cleaning or replacing dirty air filters can save 5% of the energy used to run the AC system.
Saving just 5% may not seem like a lot. But every penny can make a difference - especially since your A/C is one of the biggest energy-hogs in your house!
Go GREEN Outside
Insulation. Make sure your attic and roof area are properly insulated to keep heat from coming in. Caulking and weatherstripping windows also help keep heat out. Blackout or heat-blocking curtains can naturally insulate a room.
Awnings. Awnings can reduce cooling energy use by 26 percent in hot climates and 33 percent in temperate climates. Or try closing shutters or using external blinds. You see awnings on older homes, but I've been seeing them more on commercial buildings lately!
Use cool colors. Paint exterior walls light colors to reflect rather than absorb heat. Also choose light-colored roof shingles. For more information on cool roofs, check out this energy.gov page. We recently built a house, and chose a light-colored for this very reason! Unfortunately, we didn't realize the house color made a difference when we chose royal blue.
Plant trees. Plant deciduous trees (such as maple or ash) on the southwest or west side of the house. Trees not only provide shade, they also cool the air through evapotranspiration. Planting vines can also help cool a house by keeping the sun from the walls. Choose one from our online vine database. Check out our resources on how to choose and plant a tree. Avoid selecting an invasive species of vine or tree.
- For more details on weatherstripping, insulation, and energy-saving devices, check out the energy.gov Energy Saver website.
- Tips on Saving Money & Energy in Your Home from the U.S. Department of Energy. This downloadable booklet has many ways to save energy, not just on cooling.
- Saving Money on Heating and Cooling Your Home from N.C. State Extension. Check out other links on the right side of page.
- 12 Ways to Save Energy & Money from K-State Research & Extension
- Energy Efficient Homes: Air Conditioning from University of Florida IFAS. What is SEER? Learn all about the terms you hear and what to look for in an air conditioner.
- Living Green: Heating & Cooling from University of Florida IFAS. More great ideas to make your home greener and less expensive to maintain.
- No-Cost, Low-Cost Home Energy Savings Tips from North Dakota State University has lots of great tips for every budget.