Chill air-conditioning costs
The cost of cooling a home in the middle of summer is enough to make you sweat if money is tight. Electricity demand can get so high, as it did in Southern California recently, that it triggers power outages. Talk about sweating.
You can’t control the temperature outside, but there are things you can do to make your house cooler and minimize air-conditioning costs. Use these tips to save money and beat the heat.
Plant trees around your house
“Most heat that accumulates inside a house comes directly from the sun shining onto the roof or through windows, and heating the house directly,” says John Krigger, founder and president of Saturn Resource Management in Helena, Montana. Krigger, an energy conservation specialist, writes books, lectures and trains others in energy conservation for buildings.
Planting leafy trees around the outside of your home will help block the sun and cool your house. “Even for the cost of going to the nursery and buying a 15- to 20-foot-tall tree, trees are still the best value,” Krigger says.
Using trees or shrubs to shade your air conditioner can increase its efficiency by up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Landscaping can get pricey. Having a cash-back credit card helps.
Clothe your windows
Solar screens, or mesh-like window screens, intercept up to 70 percent of solar energy before it gets into the house, Krigger says. Window screens are particularly effective on east- and west-facing windows.
Window films are another option. They are transparent, metalized sheets that reflect heat before it can be transmitted through glass.
However, windows must be shut for window films to work, while solar screens do double duty, keeping sun and insects out, even with the windows open.