Summer Time: Beat the Heat, Help Your Wallet

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Independence Day has passed, baseball’s Midsummer Classic is this weekend, and it’s hotter than July (thank you Stevie Wonder for that slice of enlightened thinking), all of which means you’re probably paying premium price to keep you and your things cool, calm and collected, not to mention fresh.

The average home spends around $2,200 a year on energy costs, according to Energy Star, a joint program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy,. Clearly we pay the price for comfort. But like anything else, there are other options if tightening your financial belt becomes a must.

Keeping energy costs low is an easy way to save money and do your part environmentally. Here are some simple changes to make to save some money this summer:

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Programmable thermostat

Not having to think about when to turn down the heat or air conditioning can save you about $180/year, according to Energy Star. This is also quite ideal for those who leave the house to go to work during the hottest hours of the day. I always thought it was bit funny to run the AC for a person-less house.

Check out how to install a programmable thermostat here.

It also may be a good idea to close vents in rooms that people don’t often go into or are already cold to begin with, like a basement.

Turn up the heat

Speaking of thermostats, you’ll save 1-3% per degree, for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees, according to the California Energy Commission. Energy Star recommends setting it at 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away.

Natural ventilation, fans and blinds

No one would argue that opening a window or turning on a fan makes sense, but these alternatives can often be forgotten if it’s been 85 degrees for three straight weeks.  Ceiling fans or portable fans can make rooms feel cooler by circulating air and drying off the sweat on your body. Ceiling fans may seem disproportionally expensive for its initial cost and installation fee, but over time they can save you a boatload when used instead of air conditioning.

Using window fans to both pull hot air out during the day and amplify the natural ventilation that an open window provides at night, allowing for cross breezes and cooler night air, keeps air flowing and costs down.

You can also systemize your windows based on where the sun hits your house. Close the blinds of the windows that the sun most often shines through and open the blinds of the windows that are shaded. This will help reduce your dependence on not only AC, but fans as well.

Turn things off

Lights, appliances, electronic devices and really anything that uses electricity give off heat and suck life out of your wallet. So turn them off!

Turn off the lights, the TV, the blender when you leave a room. Turn off the computer when you go to bed.  Opt to grill outside during the summer, if that’s an option, rather than using the stove or oven.

Invest in a power strip if you’re unwilling to turn off your things individually and replace your hot incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent ones if they don’t give you an unbearable headache.

Beat the heat, stay in the shade

The shade underneath a tree is not only a great place to read a book; it’s a great place to live. Planting trees and other plants around the house, providing shade without blocking airflow through your windows, is about the most environmentally friendly thing you can do to stay cool.

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