Staying Hot… Wait, no, Staying Cool!

It’s finally happened: California jumped into summer. Up until about last week we were enjoying distinctly spring-like weather (for us) of temperatures that stayed at or below the 80s, chances of rain, and days upon days of not turning on the AC. Well, we’ve been in the upper 90s for days now, and today we’re all set to reach 100 degrees. Its time to turn on all our air conditioners and fans, and hope that SMUD doesn’t gouge us for it!

Or wait… It doesn’t have to be that bad. There are always things you can do to save without having to melt your way through summer!

First, purchase some fans and some window and door stoppers. Get a bunch of them – about 4 big fans, 2 small fans, and one stopper for every door and window in your home. Once the temperature drops below the level of your air conditioning in the evening, open all your windows wide and put the fans in front of them, directing the air to move through your house in a circle. This will 1) bring in air from the outside as it cools and 2) move that air throughout your house so the temperature inside drops about as fast as the temperature outside. When you go to bed, just lock everything that slides open with one of your door or window stoppers. Lock it so that its open about 4 or 5 inches, and make sure that there’s a screen there to protect you from bugs. You’re golden!

The thing is, you will need to get up rather early to close up the house before it starts to warm up outside. Around here that means getting up around 7am. If you trap the cold in and close the shades/blinds on your windows, you won’t feel the need to turn on your AC until after noon! After all, fans cost a lot less to run than central air.

Secondly, make your microwave your new best friend. It cooks heatlessly, and in only a few minutes. Canned soup with sandwiches is your new favorite meal because it doesn’t have to be warmed.If you do need something cooked, the toaster oven heats up the house far less than the stove or full-sized oven. I love making salads with leftover meat – they’re cold and the seasoned meat adds something nice to a boring salad.

Third, you may want to keep away from the booze. It warms you up, causing you to want to turn on fans. Not worth it.

And lastly, and as more of a preventative measure if you can afford it and own your own house, make modifications to your house so that it uses less energy and keeps the weather out. Having windows that close tightly, are double-paned, and are made of materials that don’t transfer heat, you keep a lot of the heat from getting into your house. Whole house fans keep air moving and help air things out quickly when it cools off. Also, because so much power is drained (especially in the afternoons) because people are turning on their air conditioners full blast, having appliances that save money not only helps you save money over the long haul, it can also help prevent rolling blackouts.

Now… your car. Keeping it cool can help you save on gas and repair. Keep it in a garage if you can, or under shade if you can’t. Crack your windows open so that heat isn’t trapped inside. Also, keep a small spray bottle of water in your glove compartment so that you can spray your seat belt buckle and the steering wheel – the evaporating water will cool them instantly.

But ultimately, the trick to staying cool is never letting it get too hot. What are some tricks you’ve discovered for keeping cool in the heat?

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