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Where I live the summer's get pretty hot and muggy, many times temps will be 90s and 100s, with humidity at or above 50 percent. And if I ran the A/C, my electric bill would be close to or above $400 a month, way more than I can afford! So I came up with a way to stay comfortable without running up the A/C bill.
I put two 20 inch box fans in each room that's occupied. One is put in a window that does not get the afternoon sun, and it is blowing into the house.
The other is put in a window on the opposite side of the room, blowing out. This way it creates a draft and the out-blowing fan pulls the air through the room. I do this and many times it's brought my indoor temps down by approximately 20 degrees! I rarely have to turn the a/c on, except on the very hottest days.
The front of my house faces directly into the hot summer sun, so another thing I do is I go to the automotive department of Wal-Mart and buy the window film that is supposed to go on the car windows. I buy the one that only allows 5 percent of the light through. I cover all of my windows on the front of the house with this film. The film allows me to see out, but doesn't allow hardly any hot sun to come in.
After summer is over when it's time to take the film down, I tape wax paper to it covering the entire sheet. Then I take a dowel the width of the film plus 2 inches (for handles) and simply roll it off the window. Then it's easy to re-use the next summer.
Between the fans and the film, my summer time electric bill dropped from about $400 to less than $150. Well worth the time it takes to set this up!
Oh, I almost forgot the animals! When it does start getting a little warm, I can always strip off some clothes or wear something much cooler. Poor pets can't do that. So if they get uncomfortable, I take a wet wash cloth (or towel if you have big dogs) and make them lay down on the kitchen floor where it's cool. I put the washcloth so that it covers their chest and belly. I also put another wet cloth across their head. They don't like it but it cools them off. Especially if I set a real small fan so that it blows lightly on them.
If that's not enough for them, I soak them down with water, then towel dry them enough so they don't drip and let them go.
For the cat, LOL that's another matter! Now that's a battle! But I take him and put him in the sink and douse him with cool water. I towel him dry just enough so he's not dripping and let him go. The cool water keeps him cool for hours.
By Cricket from Parkton, NC
Remember in a heat wave - water evaporating has a cooling effect. Like the old days, I put small bowls of water/ice cubes in front of my fans to get some cooling. Put some water in my bathtub or take a tepid bath and then go around with wet hair until it dries itself.
I have a little "swamp cooler" for my neck that works on an evaporative principle - but you can get the same effect with a wet kerchief around your neck (They make special ones with water-retaining crystals, my brother has one.) When the mercury soars every little bit helps!
Another cooling tip - try to be aware of the direction of the ventilation where you are - and if it is, say, for example cool outside, but still warm inside, direct the cool air in (and the warm air out) rather than just moving around the warm air inside!
Sounds obvious, but a couple of times I have re-arranged the standing fans at church to really cool us off by bringing in fresh outside air!
I also have an updraft in the hall of my apartment building, so I keep my door open, with screening in front of it, to make use of that source of ventilation.
By pamphyila from Los Angeles
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I have central air conditioning ($!), but I try not to use it except in extreme conditions, like very high humidity or rain on a hot day. To keep cool, I make sure I pull the blinds on any east-facing windows before I go to bed, which keeps the baking hot sun from starting the day off too hot. I also open all windows at bedtime, to let the cooler air collect in the house.
In the morning, I close all of them and just use a small tabletop or floor fan to keep the naturally cooled air moving. You'd be surprised by what a difference it makes to have air moving instead of using the AC. I "chase the sun" during the day, pulling down blinds to avoid the sun as the day progresses.
Keep in mind, too, that televisions, computers, etc, all put out significant heat, so keep that to a minimum or just BBQ as much as possible and use a small or Energy Star TV. An hour before bedtime, I may check the temperature in the house and, if it's too high (above 76F), then I turn on the AC for about an hour.
After that, open the windows to let the cool night air back in. Using the ventilator fan in the bathroom also helps suck the hot air out, and window fans are great for pumping the cool air in during the night. My electric bill drops significantly during the summer, because I'm not using the HVAC system to heat or cool the house.
Wish that would work in So. Fla, lol (08/06/2009)
Wish it would work in north central Florida too! :) (08/06/2009)
On the serious side though, I live in Florida so it's hot about 8 months out of the year and I'm always looking for a way to cut our electric bill. I have found that ceiling fans work wonders, but only run them when someone is in the room. They cool people, not rooms. Also, keeping the blinds closed when the sun is in the east and then the west makes a big difference. We keep our A/C set at 78 - 80 degrees and use our ceiling fans and stay comfortable. (08/06/2009)
In TX you can seldom ever open the windows; it's still too hot. And cooking out in TX is a scorcher. Remember the show Dallas where you see the family out on the patio. I laughed every time I saw that. And like we all wear cowboy hats and boots and have horses and cows in our yards. Yes, some do but not the most of us. LOL (08/06/2009)
It must not be too hot where you live but here it is to hot and our power company says not to cut your AC on and off like that. It is not good for the unit. This week we have temps 98 and heat index 103 - 105. I would cut AC up a little, run ceiling fans.My blinds stay closed all summer to keep heat out. (08/06/2009)
By Teresa Tart
The windows covered is good, we keep our living room windows covered for two reasons, they are on the south side, and in summer they let in too much light, therefore too much heat, and they fade fabrics. If our night temps. Here on the coast of Alabama ever got below 75 or 76 degrees in the worst part of summer then leaving the windows open would be nice, but it usually is in the too hot range, and humidity is way up there. We use ceiling fans, steadily, to mix the air constantly, but if we didn't use a c (it was off for about 9 hours one late afternoon until the next morning, awaiting repairs,and reached 85 before 10 p.M. With good insulation), there would not be a meal cooked, inside, or out on the grill. We try to save in other areas, but without a c, i think our health would suffer. The grill gets used between about Oct. -June. (08/06/2009)
Do you open the windows when the outside temperature is higher than the inside temp? Our overnight lows tend to be above 80 degrees outside, but with fans running would it still be helpful? (08/06/2009)
By Mary Ross
North Fla gal here, wishing we could leave windows open at night. Between high temperatures along with the humidity factor and a not to be forgotten crime rate the windows stay closed and locked most of the time. We keep the house A/C on 78* and also use our ceiling fans. 78* degrees takes some getting used to when the temps outside are triple digits, but you get used to it. (08/06/2009)
I can remember when we didn't have any form of AC! We had a water cool fan that we used in the hottest part of the day. At night it was open windows and occelating fans. It was sticky with humidity, but it was all we knew.
Now that I am older and have AC, we keep ours on 78 - 80 degrees in summer and around 76 or lower in the winter. Hubby is out in the heat all day and it is too cool in here for him. If I get hot, I just turn on a fan for abit and things cool me off fast! Oh, and we use our ceiling fans year round.
My son, Heating and Air man said to leave your thermostat set at 72 all year round. Your house will only heat or cool 20% more that your outside temp and doing all the adjusting and shutting off is what runs your bill up so much (08/09/2009)
One thing to remember is when it's hot and humid and your fan is sucking in that moisture you are creating a mold and mildew situation! Better to have one fan blowing the air out with all the windows open. This helps create a better air flow in the house. We had an attic whole house fan which was great for cooling but I found mildew on my furniture! This was in MA, not exactly what you would expect. The mold comes back from time to time even though I clean with tea tree oil mixed with water. Tea tree oil can be harmful to pets so use carefully! (08/11/2009)
In San Diego we use a whole house fan. We found a really quiet one-
It's so nice- no more AC- of course- we never get as hot as Texas (02/19/2010)