Planning ahead to keep cooling costs down

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This may seem premature depending on what part of the country you live, but it’s already time for us to start thinking about summer cooling costs. The temperature here over the weekend was a beautiful 75-80 degrees. However, because we live on the third floor, a balmy 80 degrees outside usually means an uncomfortable 90 degrees in our apartment.

Last year we made it until the beginning of June before we turned on the air conditioning. Using fans and open windows, we were able to keep our apartment reasonably comfortable. On the hottest spring days last year it wasn’t pleasant, but it was bearable. We’d like to make it that long again this year.

Over the weekend we spent $25 on a new fan for our bedroom. It’s portable, so Tony will be able to bring it into the living room where he works during the day or into the kitchen when we’re cooking.

Without air conditioning or heat, our electric bills are typically $45-$50. Once we turn on the A/C it will at least double, and the cost to cool our apartment will probably peak at $150-$160 in July and August. The temperature will probably remain in the 80s through October. Ugh.

I complain about the cost to cool our apartment in the summer, but our monthly average actually isn’t so bad. Our heat bills are pretty low in the winter. In 2008, we paid a total of $1,019.67 in electric bills for our 900-square-foot apartment. That works out to about $85 a month on average. Not too bad when you look at the big picture, but it’s still painful to see our electric bill triple in the summer.

Here are some ways we reduce the cost to cool our apartment:

  • Keep the thermostat set at 80 degrees. We try to keep it set at the lowest temperature necessary to keep humidity out and stay comfortable, but not frigid.
  • Close the vents in the guest room and keep the door closed so we’re not cooling a room we rarely use.
  • Keep the blinds closed in the afternoon to keep the temperature down.
  • Use fans throughout the apartment.
  • Minimize oven use, especially before sunset.

We’ll save $100 by waiting until June to turn on the A/C, and hopefully utilizing these methods throughout the summer will reduce our costs somewhat even after we turn on the air conditioner. Minimizing air conditioning also minimizes our energy use and carbon footprint, which is good, too!

I wish we were tough enough to make it through the entire summer without air conditioning, but temperatures reach 100 degrees frequently where we live. We were without air conditioning for three days when we first moved in at the peak of the summer, and it was too hot to do anything but sit in front of a fan covered in sweat. And let’s just say my husband is not a pleasant person to be around when he gets too warm. I’d rather have a high electric bill a few months out of the year than a crabby husband.

How do you keep cooling costs down in the summer?

One thought on “Planning ahead to keep cooling costs down

  1. Imee

    The heat right now is, well, bearable… But I’d rather do without. I even heard it’s gonna get worse as seasons progress. Thanks for these tips though. I never thought using ovens could contribute to home heat (duh, stupid me) so I guess we’ll have to minimize that

    Imee’s last blog post..Tips to Pay Your Monthly Bills on Time

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