Summer is here. Welcome to three months of mid-90’s weather with little-to-no clouds or rain. As the heat increases it becomes more and more challenging to stay comfortable. In response, most people will crank up the air conditioner, and as a result, also crank up the electricity bill. For me, “beating the heat” is not only about staying cool, but also about coming up with ways to keep my utility bill in check. It’s a balance I strive for so that by the end of the summer, I can stand outside with my pockets full of cash, stare up at the sun with dry armpits and a balled fist and shout, “I win again you stupid star!!”.
So, here are 10 suggestions on how to beat the heat.
1. Get Nude. I am not kidding. One of the best ways to stay cool is to be wearing as little clothes as possible. As soon as you get home from work, shed down to your boxer shorts. Letting your skin breath will allow you to keep your air conditioner at half strengh.
2. Let the house get warm when no one is around. Unfortunately, this one only applies to those who have programmable air conditioners. There is a commonly held belief that shutting down your air conditioner for a portion of the day, then latter turning it back on, will actually increase your utility bill because the air conditioner will have to work double time to cool the place down. I have not found this to be true at all, and have actually found that I am saving around 2 to 3 hours worth of air conditioner running time a day. I have our system programed to allow the house to increase in temperature by 5 degrees at 8:00am, and to start getting the house back to a comfortable temperature at 4:30pm. By the time we get home, the house feels great. The cats might be a little upset, but they don’t pitch in on the bills, so who cares?
3. Close all blinds and curtains. In doing this you will arouse suspiction with your neighbors that you are harboring illegals or running a meth lab, but it is a great way to keep the sun out of your house. Less sun equals cooler house.
4. Don’t move. During the summer months you are going to want to decrease physical activity as much as possible. If the sun can’t see you moving, it can’t attack you with its heat lasers. Just make sure to rollover a couple times a day to keep from getting bed sores.
5. Install a ceiling, or attic fan. The ceiling fan in our living room allows us to keep the air conditioner set about three degrees higher than it would be if we didn’t have it. There’s something about having some air moving around that really, really helps. If you are awesome, install an attic fan. A friend of mine did so and, out of everyone I talked with, he was the last person to turn his air conditioner on. The attic fan is also a nice alternative. It pulls air through your windows and up into the attic. You end up with a nice breeze that you can’t get with just box fans in the windows.
6. Shave your head. Want to stay cool while looking dangerous? Shave your head. Go buy a sixer and let your buddy who owns some clippers go to town. All that heat built up in your body will be released through your now liberated head skin. Plus, you will be way less likely to be called a “sissy” the next time you go into Rogers Rec.
7. Don’t think about the heat. This one always makes my wife mad because she thinks I am just being a hippie, but it really works. The power of the positive attitude is a marvelous thing. The more you dwell on the heat, the more miserable you will be, and ultimately, you will end up turning the air conditioner on full blast. Don’t do it.
8. Upgrade your cooling system. This one seems like a good idea to stay cool, but a bad idea if you want to save some dough. In the short run, I agree. Thinking big picture though, if you buy an energy efficient system you can actually save money in the long run. From the Energy Star website, they say replacing a unit that is 12 years old with an energy star unit can cut consumer’s utility bills by 30% a year. Now you can get a sweet spreadsheet going. First, figure out the initial cost of replacing your unit, then factor in the expected savings from your utility bills through the years. Now you know how long it will take to pay off your new unit and you know how much money you will eventually be saving. But more importantly, now we are having some serious fun!!!
9. Eat at a lot of buffets. Buffets are a great place for the thrifty. When you go to a buffet you know you are leaving full, whether the food is good or not. In the summer time buffets become even more attractive because they will be air conditioned. So, here is the plan. First, pack a bag with an extra set of clothes, a disguise (moustache preferred) and a book on acting. Go to the buffet for lunch, eat slow, and after you are done eating, sit around a little and digest. Once you have overstayed your welcome, disappear into the bathroom or behind a plant – somewhere no one will find you until dinner time. During your down time, read the book on acting, it will come in handy. Then, when the dinner rush hits, pop out of your foxhole with the extra set of clothes on, your disguise, and a new identity. Armed with the knowledge of acting, you are ready to seamlessly infiltrate the dinner crowd without raising suspicion from the buffet employees. They will not be able to see through your appearance and identity change. At the end of the day, you will be able to relish in getting two meals for the price of one, and a bunch of free air conditioning. Well done.
10. Don’t turn the air conditioner on. If you can make it through the whole summer without turning the air conditioner on, and still manage to stay cool, then you are awesome, and probably nude.
So good luck out there, and stay cool. Got any more suggestions? Let’s hear them.
Trip Jones is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He is a graduate student in the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. For more of Trip’s contributions, visit his author page.