Summer is now in full swing, with heat waves and hot weather working their way across the country.
While I love summer, I don’t love what the high temperatures do to my budget.
Cranking up the air conditioning each and every day really puts a dent in my summer budget.
Luckily, there are ways we can beat the heat without jacking up our electric bills or going broke.
DIY Iced Drinks
It’s hard to sit down and drink a cup of hot coffee on a hot summer’s day. But, if you’re like me, you still need your caffeine. Y
ou can go and spend $2 or $3 on a single cup of iced coffee or you can learn to make your own and save a lot of money in the process.
The Pioneer Woman has a great recipe for cheap, homemade iced coffee.
All you need to do is steep a pound of your favorite coffee in two gallons of water overnight, then drain.
You’ll end up with a rich coffee concentrate that you can pour over ice and flavor as you wish.
If you’re not a coffee person, you can easily make iced tea at home from regular tea bags.
Use two tea bags for every cup of boiling water. Let the tea steep in the hot water for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how strong you like it.
Once the tea has finished steeping, combine it in a pitcher with an equal amount of cold water, then pour over ice in a glass.
Block Out the Sun
A lot of heat enters the house through what’s known as solar heat gain. The sun shines into your windows, heating up the inside of your home.
The best way to beat the heat without breaking the bank is to invest in some blinds or drapes if you haven’t already.
Keep the blinds shut or the draperies closed in the heat of the day, when the sun’s rays are at their most intense.
If you like the look, you can install an awning over your windows on the outside of the home for extra shade.
All in the Timing
Avoid busting your summer budget by remembering to run heat-producing appliances in the evening, when things are cooler.
Wait until the sun has set to use your clothes dryer or run a load in the dishwasher. To keep things cool, air dry your clothing on a rack or clothesline.
Try not to use the oven in the heat of summer, too, or wait until the evening to use it. The heat from the oven will heat up the rest of your home.
If you need to bake something small or heat up a single serving meal, use a toaster oven instead.
Budget-Friendly Air Conditioning Use
Sometimes, you can just can’t avoid using the air conditioner. But that doesn’t mean you have to go broke doing it.
A programmable thermostat is one of the best things you can buy when it comes to regulating your energy usage.
Set the thermostat to a warmer temperature when you know you won’t be home, such as 80 degrees, or even warmer.
You won’t be throwing money away cooling a house that’s empty.
When you are home, try setting the thermostat a little warmer than you are used to. 75 or 78 degrees is still comfortable and can save you around 5 percent in energy costs each year.
The positioning of your thermostat is important, too.
Don’t set it up near appliances that produce heat, such as your television or computer, and don’t put it in a spot where the sun will shine directly on it.
You also want to keep furniture away from the thermostat, as the furniture can block natural air currents and make it difficult for you to get to the thermostat.
Window units let you enjoy the benefits of air conditioning without cooling areas you aren’t using.
If you use a window unit, place it in a window that isn’t in direct sunlight, so it won’t have to work so hard.
Shut the door of the room that the unit is in, to keep the cooled air from dispersing through the house.
If you have the unit in a bathroom or kitchen, switch off exhaust fans to keep the chilled air from being pulled out of the house.
Your air conditioner will run at its best if you take good care of it. Clean or change the filters regularly and get the system or unit checked up at the beginning of each season.
How do you beat the heat in the summer?
Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.