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The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Staying Cool

The temperature’s rising and so is the cost of cooling your home. This week I’ve read some interesting and humorous articles about ways people are keeping cool without turning on the air conditioner. Some of them could actually work, but here are some other ideas for staying cool.

Keeping Cool in Your Car
I’ve always wondered if it’s true that turning the air conditioning on in your car actually uses less gas than rolling down the windows. Last week, I turned on the TV and a local news station asked the same question. They had a couple of car experts run tests and here’s what they found. When you’re driving on side roads and traveling under 40 miles per hour, go ahead and roll down those windows because it’s a lot more energy efficient than turning on the air conditioning. However, when you get to the freeway, close all the windows and turn that air conditioner on. It seems that at faster speeds, having the windows open adds more drag…and not to mention noise.
And I haven’t tried this product, but it’s a good price, plus it doesn’t take any energy to run. I’ve seen the solar powered auto fan advertised in lots of catalogs, and all at various prices. So far, the cheapest I’ve seen is $9.95 from www.carolwrightgifts.com item # 34607 and you get a free car organizer too.

And speaking of fans, most of the articles I read this week said that more people are installing ceiling fans these days. They don’t cost that much and if you live in an area where you don’t get lots of humidity…oh, I only wish, sometimes a couple of ceiling fans are all you need to cool the house. Last year we bought a light/fan combo for the bedroom and had an electrician install it, total cost was around $200. And best of all, when you do have to turn on the air conditioning, turning on the fan makes it more energy efficient because it pushes the cold air around the room that much faster.

Floor fans can also aid efficiency and just make you feel a lot cooler. I have a feeling that because more people are relying on fans to keep them cool now, manufacturers and store are going to raise their prices. So, if you’re in the market for one, go shopping this weekend.

In The Kitchen
In this week’s Budget Smart Cook, I’ve covered the topic of staying cool in the kitchen, so I hope you’ll check that out. The only thing I’ll add here is to say eat light meals, and pick foods with high water content, like salads. And don’t forget to plan ahead. Don’t cook meals on hot days. Stick with sandwiches and salads. And be sure to double recipes on cool days. You can reheat these readymade meals in the microwave when you can’t stand to be in a hot kitchen.

Washing Day
I’m a big fan of putting the laundry outside to dry. And when the temperature heats up, it makes perfect sense to let Mother Nature do the drying for you. You save money, often save time, because the clothes dry faster. And in the end, your clothes last longer.

Plan, Plan, Plan
Being a Budget Smart Girl means you’re no longer a creature of habit and therefore, always plan out your activities to suit the weather. I never do lots of cooking, laundry, clean the house, or work out in the yard when I know it’s going to be 90 degrees with tropical level humidity. When days are cool, I cook a couple of day’s meals in advance and get the heavy housework out of the way.

Sneaky Ways to Stay Cool
Here are some easy things you can do around the house to stay cool and save energy.

Leave the room…turn off the TV and lights. Yes, they do add heat to a room.

Turn off the computer…if you’re just planning to go online to read the newspaper or check the weather forecast, don’t bother switching it on. When I sit in front of my computer all day, I realize just how much heat they generate.

Have a drink of something nice and cold. Sometimes when I’ve been outside and the perspiration is running down my cheeks, I think it’s the air conditioner that needs switching on, when in fact, I just need a few minutes to sit down, cool down and have a drink of something icy cold, like a glass of water or lemonade.

Limit the alcohol…yes, there’s nothing nicer than sitting on the patio or deck with a glass or wine or margarita, but alcohol actually makes you feel warmer. Stick with the non-alcoholic drinks until the temperature dips.

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