May 28, 2010

Air Conditioning Season is Here

It's air conditioning season here in Iowa and that is one area I will not be cheap.  I am so sorry but when it is 90 degrees and there is a lot of humidity, I want to be comfortable and cool. One other thing I won't be frugal on is "Skinny Cow" ice cream sandwiches.  They are well worth the expense.  I never  see a coupon for those but I buy them anyway. 

 We do a couple of things in our morning routine to guarantee that our air conditioners do not have to work too hard.  Since the front of our house faces east, I always pull the drapes to block the sunlight.  The same goes in the back corner bedroom that faces west.  When the sun reaches high in the sky that back bedroom can start to get really warm.  I invested in some heavy, insulated drapes to keep the room cool/warm depending on the season. 

The main floor of our home is heated by a boiler so we have window air conditioners to cool the downstairs.  The upstairs was a former attic and it has a separate force air furnace with a central air unit to keep it cool. 

There are many days when I have the drapes pulled downstairs that I do not even need to run the cool setting on the air conditioners.  Yes, it is dark, but as long as I am comfortable I can deal with a little darkness.  Actually housewives have been doing this for years to keep their homes comfortable in the summer.  My grandmother always pulled the drapes to keep the sun out and she placed a few fans in strategic locations to keep the air moving in the house.

As to the upstairs, I apply the same principle of closing blinds to keep the hot sun out.   Also on the days when it is unbearable I run the central air at the start of the day and keep the setting at 80 degrees.  Our airconditioner/furnace repairman has always told us to keep the thermostat set at a constant temperature and don't move it around a lot.  He also recommends not waiting so long to turn on the air conditioning so that the air conditioner unit has to work non stop for an hour trying to get the upstairs cooled down. 

One other thing we have done to help with keeping our home cool is to plant some trees.  Three years ago for Father's Day I purchased two trees for my husband and we planted them on either side of our house.  They have grown a lot and are already giving us quite a bit of shade.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we live in a very old house.  Our plans are to someday side it and put in new windows.  At that time we will also add insulation.  I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't much insulation in some of the walls of the house.  Even so, our heating/cooling bills are not too bad and I truly believe it is because we are vigilant about keeping the thermostat set at a constant temp, having it set at a lower setting in the winter and a higher setting in the summer and we are keeping the drapes closed on those summer hot days and open for the sun to help warm the house in the winter.

One other thing we do is to have our heating/cooling systems serviced.  On Wednesday of this week we had our central air conditioner checked.  We will have to replace it either this year or next year.  I asked for an estimate of the cost and someone will be here next week to go through the house and give us an estimate for not only a new force air furnace and air conditioner unit for the upstairs but also for a new boiler to heat the downstairs.  We are also going to get an estimate to run a separate air conditioner system to cool the downstairs so that when we do side the house (several years down the road) we won't have to install window air conditioners.

I love to dream.  Many evenings we sit on our back deck and talk about what we would like to do to the house if we had the money.  It's always fun and actually some of those dreams have come true.  My DH will tell me something like "actually I think in a few years we will be able to afford to do that."  I never dreamed we would be able to live on his income alone and continue to renovate and update our home. 

I know we don't have a lot of money right now to put into the house, but we will be in a better financial position in a couple years.  It would be costly to replace everything at once but knowledge is power.  Knowing what something will cost helps with planning out when to replace something.  We can do the central air conditioner this year, perhaps next year we can afford a newer furnace.  One thing I keep in mind when we discuss spending money on our house, is that we have every  intention to live in this house well into our retirement years.

How does this affect our household budget?  I keep on buying the "Skinny Cow" ice cream sandwiches ($3.99 for a package of six - oh and they are oh soo good and only 160 calories) and I try not to overspend in other areas of our budget so we can continue to plug away and pay off bills and put money in savings.


Moxie said...

This product is COOL and can do heat AND cooling....we have baseboard heaters and window units here...I'd LOVE to get these one year!!!!

Moderate Means said...

I'm always willing to pay for cool, too. Now the ice cream I'll pass on ;)

I've looked at the drapes but never made the investment. It's good to know that the difference is that noticeable.

Martha said...

I bought the drapes (for two windows) and they were just $20.00 a pair at Wal-mart. They made a huge difference in the winter time and now make a huge difference in the summer time.

As to the ice cream, Skinny Cow makes the best low fat, low cal ice cream treats. I've tried Weight Watcher's ice cream sandwiches but Skinny Cow beats them. For only 160 calories I am willing to skip any snacks in the afternoon when I know I have it to look forward to.