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How To Save Money During The Hot Summer

By Mark Riddix

The summer has just started and temperatures are already in the triple digits. Everywhere that you go central air conditioning units are blasting outside of homes. This is a clear indication that utility use is going to be extremely high this summer with people trying everything possible to keep cool. While you may have to use the air conditioner, there are some steps that you can take to cut down on your electricity usage. Here are a few helpful tips for saving money during the summer:

1. Skip or cut down on the dishwasher.

One of the ways to compensate for increased air conditioning use is to cut down on using other appliances. Only use the dishwasher when it is fully loaded with dishes, silverware, pots and pans. Using a half loaded dishwasher is a waste of energy and water. If you only have a few dishes to wash, try doing them by hand. It may seem old fashioned but it can save you money. One thing we always try to do at our house is to wash large pots and pans by hand and never put them in the dishwasher since they take up so much room and it keeps the pots and pans from wearing down for a longer period of time.

2. Unplug unused appliances.

Most people are unaware that items plugged into an electrical outlet continue to drain electricity when not in use. Unplug your cell phone and digital camera chargers. Turn off all televisions, dvd players, and surround sound systems. The easiest way to do this is by plugging these appliances into a power strip. Just hit the switch and you’re done. Always switch your computer to sleep mode during prolonged absences. Remember, never unplug the fridge, clocks, and essential appliances that you rely on.

3. Close your curtains.

It may look beautiful and sunny outside, but it may actually be hot and humid. Opening your curtains will not only bring in sunlight, but the outside humidity as well. Don’t make your air conditioner work harder than it already has too. The hotter your home is, the harder your air conditioner has to work to cool your home off. Be sure to close your blinds or curtains whenever you have the air conditioner working extra hard during the really hot times of day. Also, close them when you leave for the day so your home doesn’t get heated up while you’re gone (it’s not like you can enjoy the view or the light when you’re not in your home).

4. Air dry your clothes.

If you are really looking to reduce your gas and electric costs, then you should consider air drying your clothes. It may take a lot longer than using your conventional dryer, but there are some advantages to air drying. It saves you money and increases the lifespan of your clothing. Dryers have a tendency to shrink clothing, pull out fibers, and drastically fade the colors. Air drying your clothing will make them last a lot longer.

5. Go for a dip.

Are you fortunate enough to have a swimming pool in your backyard? Go for a swim. If not, don’t fret. You can go to your local swim club or fitness center. Swimming is a great family activity and it’s also some of the best exercise you can get while also keeping you cool. Your air conditioner can get a needed break while you are out swimming for a few hours. 

What are some creative ways that you are trying to keep your utility costs down during the summer? Do you know of any that have worked in the past?

(Photo credit: Jan Tik)

Mark Riddix
Mark Riddix is the founder and president of an independent investment advisory firm that provides personalized investing and asset management consulting. Mark has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area newspapers and is the author of the book, Your Financial Playbook.

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