10 Frugal Ways to Keep Cool this Summer

AC UnitThe heat is rising outside and so is my electric bill. There have to be some other ways to stay cool this summer without blasting the AC units 24/7! Here are some frugal ways to save money on your electric bill and stay cool on these hot summer days:

 

  1. Fans: Invest in some fans to help recirculate the air in your home or apartment. There are many varieties of fans including use ceiling fans, window fans and tower fans that are each good for cooling different areas. Fans can help your apartment feel cooler at only a fraction of the cost of running an AC unit. Check out this article for more information on fans.
  2. Windows: Keep the curtains and/or blinds closed during the warmest parts of the day. If the windows still let in too much light cover them with a material like bubble wrap. If the temperature drops below 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night, open the windows and use a fan to circulate the cool air. But, make sure to close them before it begins to warm up again.
  3. Keep Cool and Wet: Take a cold shower and let your hair air dry. A great time to do this is right before bed, so you can fall asleep while you are still cool. Another quick way to cool down is by wetting a towel with cold water and wrapping it around your neck. It cools the passing blood in your veins and cools your body’s temperature.
  4. Drink Water: Be sure to keep hydrated. Drink cold drinks and plenty of them. As you get hot, your body sweats in an effort to cool itself. Replacing the loss of fluid is vital. Be sure to hydrate long before you enter the heat.
  5. Eat Light: Eat light meals and avoid hot foods on warm days. Try eating chilled foods and salads as well as lots of fruits and veggies. Check out these articles by lifehacker and new york magazine for some cool food and drink ideas.
  6. Dress Right: Whether you are at home or outside dress for the heat. Wear lighter, more breathable clothing. Instead of walking around the house in jeans and a t-shirt, why not throw on some cotton shorts and a tank?
  7. Keep Appliance Use to a Minimum: Try not to use your oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer as much as possible during the warmer parts of the day as these appliances give off a significant amount of heat. If you must use your oven, try cooking several things at once or make a large batch of items that you can freeze for later use.
  8. Control the Air: Use energy saver and timer features on your AC unit or thermostat to help you adjust the temperature higher while you are gone or sleeping. Each degree that you set your thermostat below 78 will increase your energy use by 3 or 4%. Be sure to close doors to rooms that aren’t often used so you aren’t cooling a space that you don’t use. Sleep in the coolest room in the house.
  9. Check The Filters and Vents: If you have central air, make sure that all of the air vents are clear of obstructions. Similarly, make sure that the AC unit has a clear path to circulate the air, use fans to help circulate the cool air to other parts of your home. Make sure to change the filter in your AC unit, buy a reusable one if possible.
  10. Get out: If you have had enough of the heat, get out of the house! Head to the library, mall or a friend’s home to use someone else’s air conditioning for a while.

Join the Conversation: How do you stay cool in the summer?

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Easy Ways To Reduce Your Monthly Bills

This week I am continuing my New Year’s Resolutions series, with an article on reducing your monthly bills.

Have you ever wondered if you are paying a little too much on your cable bill, insurance, cell phone or electric bill, but you decide not to look into it because you don’t think that it is worth the hassle? Paying a little bit too much each month can add up really quickly over the course of a year. If you can reduce these regular expenses, even by a little bit each month, that can make a huge difference. Here are a few small things that you can do to stop overpaying and reduce your monthly bills:

  • Car Expenses: Cars are very expensive, any way that you can reduce your monthly auto payments will significantly help your budget. If you are in a family with two cars, consider consolidating the one. Save money on gas by taking public transportation or car-pooling. If you are driving an old vehicle that is costing you a lot of money in maintenance, know when to stop putting money into it and invest in a new vehicle.
  • Cell Phone: Cell phones plans can be very costly. Shop around. If you can, try to get on a “pay as you go” or family plan. You don’t necessarily have to be family to be on a plan like this, you can just be a group of friends. Track your usage and make sure that you find a plan that best suits your needs. You shouldn’t pay for anything that you aren’t using.
  • Cable Packages: First, ask yourself if you really use your cable. If you don’t, getting rid of it can save you a lot of money. There are many cheaper options outside of cable such as Netflix or Hulu that still allow you to see the shows that you love. If you do decide to keep the cable, be sure to look out for deals and consider negotiating and re-negotiating your package on a frequent basis. For other ways to save money on cable check out this article .
  • Energy Bill: Be conscious about turning off lights and unplugging devices when they are not in use. Invest in energy efficient bulbs and smart power strips that eliminate phantom charges (electricity used by devices that are off or on stand-by mode). You can also use regular power strips for your electronics and simply turn off the strip when your electronics are not in use. Lower the temperature in your apartment when you are away, adjusting the temperature in your apartment by just a few degrees can make a big difference.
  • Water Bill: Take shorter showers, use an egg timer to help you keep your showers down to just a few minutes. Only use water when you need to. Don’t keep the water running while you are brushing your teeth or while you are scrubbing dishes. Do laundry only as often as necessary.
  • Insurance Bills: Make sure that you have the minimum coverage that you need. Don’t purchase more than you need. If you can, raise your deductible. Also, shop around to look at various companies, get a few quotes and see if your insurance can match those rates. If they can’t, switch!
  • Credit Card Bill: If you have a large credit card bill that you are paying off ask your credit card company if they can lower your interest rate. Often, all it takes is you asking. If they can’t, you should consider switching your balance to another credit card with a lower rate.
  • Membership Fees: Do you actually use the memberships that you are paying for? For instance, if you belong to a gym, are you actually using it enough to make it worth it? Why not consider working out at home?

I realize that this list can be overwhelming, choose one or two suggestions to focus on for this month and see if you can see a difference. You can save a lot of money on bills if you are willing to invest a little bit of time into the process. Don’t let yourself over-pay every month without looking into possible deductions that may be out there.

Join the Conversation: What are your ideas for saving money on bills?