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Keeping Cool During the Summer
by Drew Fetsch

High temperatures during the summer can mean a real challenge to keep your place cool without breaking the bank. You might be lucky enough to have central air in your rental, but the electric cost can end up getting you steaming mad nonetheless. For those with a window air conditioner or even nothing at all, living in a hot apartment can get really uncomfortable. If you live on the top floor and have walls that get the afternoon sun, your place can easily exceed 100 degrees on a regular basis. Here are a few tips to help you keep cool and save money at the same time.

Windows
Make your windows work better. If you have windows on more than one side of your place it's recommended that you open the windows on the windward side as much as possible and open the windows on the other side, but not as much. This can cause a higher air velocity and will keep you feeling cooler. During the day if it's warmer outside than inside, you will likely be better off keeping your windows closed.

Cover up those windows. Whether you've got blinds, shades or curtains, use them! Make sure they're closed during the day regardless of whether you've got central air or nothing at all. If you've got dual shades make sure that the reflective (white) side faces outward.

Window Fan
Get a window fan if you don't already have one, and if you do, make sure to use it properly. A window fan does two things for you. First, it will circulate the air in the room. This creates a windchill effect that makes you feel cooler from the breeze even if the temperature stays the same. The second benefit is that it will draw cooler air from outside into your place. Keep in mind that if the air is cooler inside than outside, a window fan will make things worse. Use the fan in the morning to blow cool air inside. In the evening reverse it to blow outdoors. This will blow the warmer air out and draw the cooler nighttime air in. Keep your windows and interior doors open when running the fan.

Room Air Conditioner
If you have an air conditioner make sure it's clean. If you suspect it's not, ask your landlord if they can inspect and clean it for you. Leaves and sticks can frequently become lodged in the coils and the fins can become bent. Make sure that there's enough clearance around the air conditioner. Shrubs and landscaping should be at least one foot away. Set the fan speed on high, except on very humid days. The low speed will better remove moisture from the air because of slower air movement through the cooling equipment.

Central Air Conditioning
Got central air? Well, lucky you! To help save money make sure you still follow all of the other tips to help keep your costs down. Plus, be sure to periodically check the air filter. When it gets clogged with dust, it will be harder to keep your place cool, and your costs will go up even more.

Ceiling Fans
Make sure ceiling fans are set properly. Most ceiling fans have two settings. One for keeping your place cool, the other for keeping your place warm. Not flipping the switch on this setting for the summer can make a big difference. During the summer you want to make sure that the fan blade rotation is set to blow the air directly down. The breeze from ceiling fans has been shown to make you feel 5 to 10 degrees cooler than you would in still air at the same temperature. Also wash the top of the fan blades. Chances are there's a ton of dust on them, and this causes drag and reduces the air flow rate.

Lighting
The right light bulbs can make a difference. Using the right light bulb can help keep your place cooler and help save money. Fluorescent bulbs use only about a quarter of the electricity as regular incandescent bulbs and they last 10 times longer. Standard and halogen bulbs radiate a lot of heat, switching to fluorescent bulbs can make a difference. Newer compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) give you the advantages of fluorescent lighting, but give off light similar to standard incandescent bulbs. Since they're more expensive, you might even want to put the original bulbs back in the fixtures and take your CFL bulbs with you when you move out.

Thermostat
Set your thermostat to as high as comfortably possible. Obviously, the more cooling you do with your central or room air conditioner, the higher your electric bill will be. Setting the thermostat to a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner won't cool things down any faster, and if you forget, you'll end up paying for it when the bill comes.

Bathroom Vent
Make sure to use the bathroom vent when showering. Without it, all of the humidity that builds up in the bathroom will leak out into the rest of your place.

Appliances
Use your dishwasher at night. Dishwashers have built-in heaters so they can heat the water even more than the water heater does. This extra heat and humidity will leak into your kitchen. Wait until nighttime when it's cooler outside. The same is obviously true when it comes to using the dryer or oven.

For more information on saving energy and keeping your place cool check out: www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/.


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