Money

Simple Ways Your Family Can Beat the Heat on a Tight Budget

Your freezer’s jam-packed with popsicles, the air’s filled with crooning cicadas, and there’s a heat mirage at the end of your street. What does it all mean? That summer has arrived, of course!

These are just some of the signs the hottest season is here. As the temperatures climb, you’ll be itching to crank your AC in retaliation. But your budget may not be ready for utility bills singed by the summer’s heat.

If you’re worried about how you’ll pay for it all, read on. These tips will douse an overheated budget.

Don’t Overtax Your Air Conditioner

After a long afternoon spent working in your backyard, you probably want to turn your home into an icebox. But remember, it comes at a cost.

You’ll be using more power to make sure your AC pumps out enough cold air. It might even break down if you make this a habit, as it has to work harder to maintain cooler temps.

The specialists at Energy.gov suggest setting your AC to 78°F to balance comfort with cost.

For additional savings, try setting your thermostat as high as 88°F while you’re at work. Raising your thermostat by 10°F for more than two hours will save as much as 10 percent of your cooling costs.

Chill out without the AC

If you’re used to arctic temperatures in your home, 78°F may be a big adjustment. But don’t give in. Try the following tips to keep cool without touching your AC:

  • Take advantage of any fans you have in your house, making sure your ceiling fans turn counter-clockwise
  • Pull drapes and other window treatments closed during the day to stop the sun from heating your space
  • Repair any cracked or damaged weatherstripping to prevent hot air from seeping in

Get to Know Your Local AC Repair Service

Ideally, you’ll want to use your AC sparingly to give it a break, turning it on only when temperatures and humidity rise too high.

But for some people, this isn’t possible. If you rely on your AC to filter allergens or keep your space cool for medical reasons, you must have your appliance working 24/7.

Continuous use is hard on this appliance, so it might need more maintenance than usual. According to HomeAdvisors, a repair may cost as much as $539.

That’s a lot of money if you aren’t expecting it. Here are two strategies to help you cover these added costs:

Arrange a financing plan

Your local repair service might offer financing plans that help offset repairs you can’t afford. Most will break up the cost of repairs into installments rather than one lump sum, so you have more time to find the money.

A line of credit vs credit card

If they don’t offer this plan — or if you still need a little extra cash even with the financing plan in place — research how a credit card or online personal line of credit can help.

Take the time to learn about the difference between a credit card and online personal line of credit, so you make the right choice. Depending on your finances, there will be a clear winner in a line of credit vs credit card showdown.

Find Public Places to Cool off

Can’t beat the heat in your own home? Don’t touch that dial yet. There are plenty of public buildings across town pumping out AC all summer long.

The library is an excellent retreat in the summer. Not only is it cool, but it’s totally free. Check to see if your local branch runs any group activities, like book clubs, lecture series, and more.

Museums, theaters, and shopping malls are also a good backup. Just be wary of the fact they’ll cost money. Visit these places for a special occasion when your budget can spare the cash.

Keep Your Cool & Your Money

It’s possible to enjoy the hottest days without relying on your AC. It may take some effort, but you’ll be able to strike a balance between your comfort and your budget. Remember these tips as you protect your budget from the rising temps.

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