During the summer months in DFW, the temperatures soar to three digits. To beat the heat, homeowners crank up the air conditioner only to run into higher electric bills. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in 2016 the average monthly home energy bill in Texas was $127.10.
Not only that but also the EIA shows that electricity prices have climbed by 3 percent in 2017. Although heating systems drain energy in the winter, the summer tends to see higher electricity rates.
Here are five easy ways to beat the heat and keep your home cool without turning up the AC.
- Hack Your Fans
Here are simple two things you can do with fans to send a cool breeze wafting through the room. For standing fans, fill a big metal mixing bowl with ice and set it in front of the fan. That’s it. You can try other frozen items, but ice works well. Use a towel or something to prop up the bowl and play with the angles to find one that works best.
The other fan trick is to change the ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise and at a higher speed. It creates a wind-chill effect. Fans need to be adjusted seasonally, so there’s an added benefit of switching directions in the summer and winter.
Here’s a bonus tip that involves another type of fan: the one in the bathroom and the exhaust fan in the kitchen. These fans scoop up the heat and steam from the shower and stove to prevent them from making the rest of your house hotter.
- Hack Your Sleep
Flannel sheets and fleece blanks feel nice against the skin, but they also make a person feel warmer. During balmier months, switch to the more breathable cotton to keep the bed cooler. Wear lighter clothing without sleeves or shorter sleeves.
If you need a little extra help staying cool, keep a bowl of cool water with a cloth by your bedside. When you feel warm, dip the cloth in the water and dab your neck, wrists, feet, and forehead. Or fill a water bottle, freeze it, and stick it under the covers at the foot of the bed.
Since heat rises, the ground is the coolest part of a bedroom. You can sleep on the floor or put your mattress on the floor. Another option is to invest in a chilling or buckwheat pillow. A chilling pillow is exactly as it sounds. It’s like an ice pack pillow that you can sleep on or slip into a pillowcase. A buckwheat pillow doesn’t retain as much body heat as conventional pillows.
- Hack the Cooking
Turning on the oven or stove adds more heat to the house. So take the cooking outside to the grill. You can make anything and everything on the grill. Just ask any Boy Scout who has made cobbler and breakfast in a bag.
You can also do an internet search for “no cook meals for summer” to discover plenty of recipes that don’t require cooking. And you’d be surprised how many you can find that isn’t a salad. Explore gazpachos and other cool soups, sandwiches like muffulettas, pokes, and smoothies.
- Hack the Windows
Opening the curtains to let sunlight in brightens up a room. But it also makes it warmer as windows can bring in up to 30 percent of heat. You can still bring in natural light by opening north- and east-facing windows, which get less sun.
Blinds, shades, and curtains can both lower your energy bill and indoor temperatures. To completely block sunlight and insulate rooms, install blackout curtains. The Department of Energy says that medium-colored window treatments with white plastic backs can cut heat by 33 percent.
It may not be cost-effective to cover some windows. Instead, you can install dark, mirror-like window films to block the heat and prevent sun damage to flooring and furniture.
- Hack the Lights
Here’s a good reason to dump incandescent bulbs. They release 90 percent of their energy as heat. Though they’re cheaper than CFLs and LEDs, the energy-efficient CFLs and LEDs last longer and lower the electric bill to save money in the long run. CFLs use a whopping 70 percent less energy than incandescent and average only a $1 more.
LEDs last the longest at anywhere from 20k to 50k hours, which is five times longer than a comparable bulb. They use about 25 to 80 percent less energy than an incandescent. The downside is that LEDs cost the most out of all the lights on the market, but prices are dropping.
Some home builders like Sandlin Homes know the climate of the places where they build. They use their knowledge of typical weather conditions, land, and materials to design houses that maximize the home’s efficiency to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.