Tightwad Tuesday: Keeping Cool

Heather says:

*EDIT I couldn’t figure out why no one had said a word about this post, until this morning when I realized I accidentally left it in draft mode. So, here’s Tightwad Tuesday, five days late.*

Every year I play a game, “How long can I put off turning on the AC?” This year we had an early heatwave that crushed my hopes of holding out until June 1. However a cool spell arrived during the night, the windows are once again wide open, and my utility bill is sighing with relief.

Here are a few tips to help postpone turning on the AC:

  • Be vigilant and close blinds and curtains before bright sunbeams bring in heat. 
  • If you are lucky enough to have a screened in porch, experiment with using a crockpot, toaster oven, griddle, or roasting oven outside of the kitchen.
  • Even though it is vented to the outside an electric dryer still creates heat, set up a clothesline, unless your HOA has regulations.
  • Energy efficient celing fans can help a room feel almost five degrees cooler than the actual temperature.
  • Ensure the heated dry cycle of the dishwasher is OFF.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs do not create as much heat as incandescent. Replace your bulbs as they burn out.
  • If you aren’t busy checking out Home-Ec101.com for helpful tips or telling your friends about us, turn off your computers. That fan you hear is running for a reason and your machine is adding to the heat.

Tell me, how do you keep things cool as the weather gets warm?


  1. Judith on May 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Heather ….
    Oh, how I agree that a post-mowing, ice-cold beer is one of life’s greatest treats!
    I ditto the collective advice about the use of alternative kitchen appliances (I even handwash most of my dishes in the summer, just to avoid the heat from my dishwasher washing our plates and things.) And we eat lots of fresh/raw veggies and fruit in conjunction with cooking on our grill outdoors.
    We try to use the A/C as little as possible here in western Pennsylvania, though some summers it can be on for days at a time. It’s not the temperature so much — we average less than 2 weeks a year of 90 degrees or over — but it’s the humidity that makes it hard to bear even 80 – 85 degrees. That’s where the A/C is so wonderful, stripping the moisture out of the air.

    Hubs and I have found that if we have air moving (small rotating fan) at night, we don’t ususally need the A/C …..
    By the way, if you want to cool off and don’t want to put your feet in cold water, run some cold water over your wrists. That works, too!

    P.S. Heather — how is Ivy these days? I miss hearing from her. Tell her we say hi!

  2. Tina t on May 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who does stuff like this. I also try to avoid turning on the heat until it gets to the point where we’re almost frozen in the morning. With all the energy taxes about to hit, I think we’ll be glad to be frugal when it comes to turning on the AC.

  3. Becca on May 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    We are already in triple digits in Phoenix and our A/C is going full fource. We have curtains up in those afternoon exposure windows and we pull them tight around noon, I am sure we resemble London residents pulling the blackout curtains in WWII. I am also going to be putting up some film in the windows that get hit the worst because those curtains are only doing so much to cut back on the 120degree Arizona summer sun.

    I just planted trees a couple of days ago that will block the summer sun from a lot of those windows, that will take a couple of years though. I must say that I don’t understand why more thought wasn’t put into tree placement when they built this neighborhood five years ago.

    We are done cooking anything for dinner that takes longer than thirty minutes in the oven (next roast will be in October….ditto for the lasagna).

    We have a time of use plan and that means it is expensive between 1pm to 9pm to use power. No laundry, dishwasher or oven (if we can help it) during these times.

    Right now this is tough ’cause we’ve got seven people in our house….but when my stepsons go see their mom for summer break we will be getting all sorts of radical on the summer utility bill. We will close vents in rooms not being used…..we will switch our dinner times to Spanish-style LATE dinners….we will be spending days out and about with the A/C set slightly higher while we are gone….

    If we had the money, we’d set up solar-powered attic vent fans to help cool down the attic (thus cooling down the house, to some degree).

    I hate summer but it least it ain’t humid out here, y’all!

  4. La Rêveuse on May 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

    We used to live in France, where A/C was virtually non-existent (and when it was, hardly used because power is so costly there). I learned a few things, many of which are mentioned above, but the one thing that always worked (and is really cheap):

    Wash your feet in cold water. If it’s really hot? Fill a basin 1/2 way with cold water, set it down by your favorite chair, put your feet in and read a book. It works so well, sometimes you will look for a sweater. 😉

  5. Tiffany on May 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    love your blog!

    Tiffany Pifer

  6. Nancy on May 16, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    We have no air conditioning. No houses in this development have it. We are on a ridge at about 7000 ft above sea level, and it only gets really hot in July and August. I try to grill outside or use the microwave during that time. The kids play in the basement a lot. I don’t use the dryer for much at any time, except for socks, towels and underwear. I have clothes racks for everything else.

  7. Agricola on May 16, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I grew up in a house that had (sigh) an attic fan. It was all we needed at night to stay cool, and we very rarely used A/C. I still think it’s the best way to cool off in a hot climate, and one of the days I will have one in my house.

  8. Heather on May 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Oh Keter, Keter, Keter, you won’t take away my post lawn mowing beer will you? I know it doesn’t do anything as far as a cool down, but oh, there are few things I enjoy more than cracking open a beer after finishing an evening mow.

  9. Keter on May 16, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I agree with ThatBobbieGirl that it’s the change of temperature that is often the worst. When I’m working in an icy office, coming home to a warm house makes both situations uncomfortable, so I turn on the AC.

    AC here in Texas is necessary. And mine has been on for about two weeks now, as the heat index has been over 100 most days (90° temps plus high humidity), and even with fans there’s no real cooling possible when the humidity is that high.

    My great struggle is that my house is made of concrete, and had NO insulation when I bought it. As I’m redoing it, I’m adding false walls on the interior and stuffing them with insulation. I’m fortunate to have trees on all sides of the house, and their shade is really useful.

    I’m always running around after my husband, turning off lights. Fluorescents give me migraines, so when I can’t get incandescent any longer, I’m probably going to oil lamps (wince). Maybe by then they’ll have the bioluminescent coatings cheap enough for me to afford them.

    I cook outside as much as possible, and use the crockpot instead of the stove when I can. And there are at least two fans in each room. Target has some nice little 4 inch “personal fans” for $7 that actually are good little air movers, and they’re a lot quieter than most small fans. I put one in each bathroom, over the cooktop (hey, it keeps me from crying when I slice onions, too!), and on my desk to use as needed.

    BTW, remember that as tempting as that cold beer may seem, alcohol heats up the body. To keep your cool, drink lots of ice water! It’s also the time of year for chilled foods – potato salad, fruit salad, chicken or tuna salad, cold sandwiches, cucumber anything, refrigerated fruit, smoothies, ices, cheese, yogurt, cold cuts, sliced raw veggies, dip, crackers/crisps. This year, I’m adding fresh veggies from my garden to the cool plates: day before yesterday we had raw wax beans fresh from the vine, so tender they didn’t need steaming, just a light sprinkle of Bragg’s (soy) sauce.

  10. ThatBobbieGirl on May 16, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I have the best ever solution to delay turning on the AC: don’t have an air conditioner in your house. I can’t imagine our electric bill if we did!

    I try to keep the curtains closed on the sunny side of the house, if possible. And we keep the windows shut to keep the cool inside until there isn’t any left. Sometimes a fan blowing cool air up from the basement helps.

    We’ve lived without for 10 years now. It’s not bad if I just stay home. It’s when I go somewhere with AC for a while that makes it hard to manage not having it here.

  11. Angela on May 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I am hoping to go till July or August this year:) It has not been warm up here at all so far and my battle is keeping the heat off and just using more blankets on the cold nights and mornings.
    I usually just close the blinds that the sun is coming in and rotate it through out the day. Otherwise my house feels even smaller.
    We grill a lot in the summer and can make the whole meal on it.

  12. chocolatechic on May 16, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I use a toaster oven.

    I set my turkey roaster outside to make a “summer kitchen”.

    I keep the blinds closed on the side of the house that is getting sun.

    And I refuse to turn on the AC till at least June.

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