There’s no need to lose your cool when you get your electric bill during the hottest days of the year. Instead, try some alternatives to cranking up the air conditioning when the sun is blazing and it hasn’t rained in days.
Install a dehumidifier. If it feels as humid indoors as it does outdoors, it’s not just the heat making you uncomfortable. If you see water dripping out of the air conditioner or if you have to set it so low that you’re freezing just to feel comfortable, a dehumidifier will help.
Cook outdoors or eat cold food. Salads, raw veggies and fruit make great bases for summer meals, and they don’t require the stove or oven, which can heat up the kitchen. Instead, gather the family for a barbecue and fire up the outdoor grill or serve a cold buffet on extra-hot evenings.
Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home. Check doors, windows, outlets, attic access doors and anywhere else that outside air might enter your home.
Hang bright curtains. Red, orange and yellow tend to deflect heat, so for curtains, those colors are energy efficient. Closing the curtains or blinds during the day will keep sunrays from heating up the home you’re trying to keep cool. Or install solar screens or a window tint to let in the light but keep out the heat.
Run fans. Ceiling fans with blades that turn counterclockwise pull heat up out of the room and send a soft breeze down into it, so anybody nearby will feel cooler. Electric fans placed in windows can draw heat out of a room on days when you want to give your AC a break.
Run your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer after dark. Appliances that use heat to operate also throw some heat into the rooms they’re in. So run them during the coolest part of the day—after the sun goes down.