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How to Stay Cool on a Budget Now That It’s Getting Warm Out

Apr 15, 2020

How to Stay Cool on a Budget
As we move into the warmer spring months, you’ll start to spend more time outside—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cool and comfortable when you’re inside. Rather than blasting your air conditioner and watching your electricity bill skyrocket, consider referencing some of the tips we’ve listed below that are designed to keep you cool while on a budget.

Install and set a programmable thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat is key to managing the temperature in your home, and it can actually help you save up to 10 percent on heating and cooling costs each year.

When deciding how to set your thermostat, the general rule of thumb is that the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. When you’re not in the house, try to keep the thermostat set warmer (approximately 85 degrees) to avoid spending more to cool an empty house. Then, once you’ve returned home, set the temperature as high as comfortably possible (for most people, this is at approximately 75-78 degrees). Instead of relying on the thermostat to cool down, consider using fans to create a windchill effect.

Use small fans or whole-house fans

Despite what most people think, you actually don’t need to rely on AC to cool off. In fact, ventilation is the least expensive and most energy efficient way to cool a home. If you use a ceiling fan, you can raise the thermostat about four degrees without impacting your comfort, which can help keep your overall costs down.

Something you should keep in mind is that almost all household fans have two functions: clockwise and counter-clockwise. Be sure to set yours to counter-clockwise; clockwise is often used in the winter as it blows the air upwards, whereas counter-clockwise is used in the summer as it blows the air down so you can feel the cool breeze.

You can also take advantage of natural breezes by opening the windows and/or doors to create a draft. If you do this at night once the sun has set, you’ll get a nice, cool breeze. Consider strategically placing floor or oscillating fans in front of cracked windows, as this can help amplify the natural breeze.

And remember—always turn all fans off when you leave the room, because fans cool people, not rooms!

Shop secondhand for a new spring wardrobe

If you or your kids need new season-appropriate clothing but you don’t want to spend too much money, stop by your local consignment shop or thrift store once stores reopen. Also, since it’s getting warm out, you can plan to have a weekend yard sale once the stay at home order has been lifted if you want to sell your older spring clothing to put some money back in your pocket and make room for your new clothes.

Grill outdoors

If you have access to an outdoor grill, use it! Using indoor appliances like the oven can heat the kitchen—and house—very quickly.

If you don’t have a grill and you’re cooking indoors, open all of the doors and windows to generate a nice breeze and let all of the hot air out. To keep the house from getting too hot when cooking indoors, try to only cook in the morning and at night when outdoor temperatures are lower.

Similarly, you should wait to do any chores until nighttime, as using the vacuum, running the dryer, and doing other chores that require physical labor can cause your body temperature—and your home’s temperature - to rise.

Take advantage of daylight

Light bulbs generate heat, so try not to leave too many lights on during the day. However, direct sunlight will also heat your home, so consider closing the blinds in all rooms besides the one you’re in.

Go for a walk

Spending more time outside means you don’t have to worry about managing the temperature inside, so consider going for a walk on a shaded outdoor trail. Sometimes, these can feel much cooler than the rest of the city – plus, you’ll get some fresh air! Check out some of the heavily wooded paths in Fairmount Park, Wissahickon Valley Park, Bartram’s Garden, and more, as these trails are more spacious and therefore less crowded than places like Kelly Drive. Be sure to keep a healthy distance from those around you on the trail, but also be sure to enjoy your walk and bring along any loved ones that you live with who also need fresh air!

No matter how hot it gets outside, you can keep calm and keep cool with these tips!

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union


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