Hey, gang! You’ll never guess where I got the idea for this week’s Column. Good Lord. With my July birthday, I’ve found myself thanking my Mom profusely time and again for being nine months pregnant in the July heat way back when. This year, I felt like I should erect a statue in her honor (Thanks again, Mom!). If you’re one of the millions who feel that battling this latest heat wave has sapped your strength – and your bank account – read on for fabulously frugal tips on keeping cool, without going broke in the process.
(1) Do your math – In the hottest months of summer, my own frugal experiments show time and again that a simple twenty degree difference between the outside temperature and the inside air is all it takes to feel refreshed and cool. If it’s 98 degrees outside, and your air conditioner is set to 65, it’s huge overkill that’s taking a monster bite out of your wallet. Believe it or not, you can easily and comfortably escape your 95-degree outdoor surroundings with an indoor air conditioner set to 75 degrees. You read right – 75 degrees. Give it a try! Trust me, not only is it far less of a shock to your system, it’s far less of a shock to your utility bill at the end of the month.
(2) Meet your summertime cooking buddy, your microwave – If there’s one thing that goes against the grain in the summertime heat, it’s blasting up the oven to 350 degrees or putting a couple of stove burners on “high” to get dinner on the table. While you’re planning your meal menus, think big and think cool. If your family is big time pasta lovers, try cooking two pounds at a time. Keep the leftovers in the refrigerator and heat them up the next night in the microwave rather than cooking up a whole new batch on the stove. If your crew is into the protein, try cooking two chickens in the oven rather than just one at a time. The leftovers will heat up beautifully in the microwave the next day – with much less heat in the kitchen, therefore much less air conditioning required to counteract it – you get the point. Extra credit to those who also employ their outdoor grills and/or energy efficient crockpots.
(3) Don’t even think about using your clothes dryer – It’s 95 degrees in the shade, if there’s ever been a better case to be made for giving your dryer a summer vacation, this is it. Grab some clothesline and string it up around anything that stands still – a tree branch, the edge of your swing set, the side of your garage – trust me, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Not only will your clothing dry faster than you ever thought possible, but you’ll be astonished to see what you’re saving on your energy bill. Case in point: I put a batch of towels on the line last week, and not only were they dry within 90 minutes, they were ready to spontaneously combust.
Whatever you do to combat the heat this summer, try to incorporate at least some of these proven tips so you’re not stuck battling a huge utility bill at the end of summer. Frugal On!