A blog about spending wisely in your twenties, with advice on everything from cooking to saving money on gas; how to teach yourself to save money instead of spending it, traveling without breaking the bank, and much more.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Battle of the Air Conditioner, or 5 Ways to Beat the Heat

If you live in Southern California, the most painful bill to pay in the summer is the electricity bill- the dry heat out here is awful. The other day one of my roommates and I had the on/off battle of the air conditioner. She kept turning it on, I kept turning it off. To be fair, her room is on the second floor, covered in windows and has a ceiling fan way too high to actually circulate air around the room, it's pretty much a solar oven up there. But we live on a lake, so once you get the windows open and a fan that actually moves the air around, not so awful. What we really need are fans that will fit in the windows, especially in her room.

What struck me the most about our air conditioner battle (and I use the term battle loosely, we weren't really fighting), was that when we finally crossed paths I pointed out that running the AC would add up - our energy bill could easily be $100+ higher than the $120-$150 we've been cruising at for the past three months (for a four bedroom house with three adults and a kid in Southern California, mind you). Her response was "It's so hot, I don't care how much it costs!" She wasn't being a baby or anything, it was terribly hot yesterday- but because the rest of us are content to put on a tank top, open the windows and turn on a fan, we'd have been pretty bitter about that extra $100 on the power bill. I handed her the biggest fan in the house and sent her back upstairs with instructions to open her windows and crank the fans.

To be sure, there was a time in my life (about three apartments ago) when the cost of running an air conditioner didn't matter to me. Utility bills are one of the easiest ways to bleed money: running the AC at full blast because it's hot, using the dryer instead of hang drying clothing, running the dishwasher instead of just washing dishes by hand - it is very easy to disconnect from the actual cost of running an appliance if it makes our life easier.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I'd rather keep the money in my pocket and take ten minutes to hang dry my clothes or three seconds to turn on a fan or open a window than pay an extra $100 a month in bills. To that end, here are a few tips to on keeping cool:

(1) Open your windows! When air can circulate through the house, it stays cooler. Use fans to help it along.
(2) Drink water! The more hydrated you are, the less hot you'll feel.
(3) Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the fridge. Every now and then, spritz yourself. This might actually be better than air conditioning.
(4) Fill up some water guns and go outside. Try not to run up your water bill too much, but having a water fight will cool you off considerably. The water bill will almost always be less than the power bill, even if you set up a Crocodile Mile for an afternoon.
(5) Wear less. Tank tops and shorts are your friends. Even if you're alabaster white like me, who cares? The fashion police probably won't beat down my door for wearing cut offs and a tank top around my home when it's 90+ degress outside. And who cares if they do?


brizzzyredhead said...

FOUR adults and a kid ;)

Also, even with the fans and windows/patio doors open up there, it's still blazing.

And SCREW tank tops and cutoffs - when I'm in my room, I'm naked lol. Still, even stripped down as far as I can go is doing nothing for me... *shrug* Possibly I'm just prone to overheating. Or financially reckless... but $25/month extra is a fair price to me to pay for 3 months of comfort.

However, for y'all I will roast and suffer. Begrudgingly. ;)

Alyssa said...

Last summer my former room mate had a portable air conditioner, he also had a refrigerator in his room all to himself so I inquired about it to see if he would pay a little extra since he was the one using up all the electricity. I didn't want to look into an expensive machine for myself AND pay even more for electricity because of it.

Anyway, if everyone wants the air off but one person, maybe that one person would be willing to pay more? Sounds like it.