Staying cool is tough enough during a massive heat wave, and it can be expensive too even if energy and food prices are coming down as of the latest Consumer Price Index.
For budget-conscious older adults, blasting the air conditioner all day and stocking up on an endless supply of bottled water may not be ideal, but there are other ways to stay cool without breaking the bank, including these seven.
1. Close the curtains
One of the easiest ways to stay cool without running your air conditioner all day is to close your curtains during daylight hours. This will keep the sun out and stop your rooms from overheating. If you have blackout curtains, even better. There are also films available for your windows that keep the heat out without sacrificing the view. “Doing what you can to eliminate the heat source through the sun can really make a difference,” says Mallory Micetich, a home care expert at Angi, the internet home improvement referral company.
2. Give your air conditioner a tune-up
If you do have to run your air conditioner, make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, the unit has to work harder, which means more money spent on energy. Simple upkeep, like changing the filters, can improve the unit’s performance. “With rising costs, you are trying to extend the lifetime of the units so you don’t have to replace them in the near term,” says Emily Irwin, senior director of advice and planning for Wells Fargo. If your air conditioner has an energy-saver mode, use it, says Irwin.
3. Fans are your friend
Fans get a bum rap when compared to air conditioners, but they can be an excellent way to stay cool without spending a lot of money. “Fans use a fraction of the energy compared to air conditioner units,” says Micetich. “You can keep fans running all day and not add to your electricity bill like an AC would.” Most ceiling fans are directional, which means you can change the way the blades spin and the air flows. To keep the room cool, Micetich says the blades should spin counterclockwise. That helps push the cold air downward onto you. In the winter, the fan blades should spin clockwise, pulling the cold air up. Creating cross-ventilation by using a ceiling and a window fan simultaneously is also a cheap and efficient way to cool your living space. “Using two fans can reduce heat throughout the home,” says Micetich.