Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Guest Post by Kyle at Rather-Be-Shopping

First of all, a huge thanks to Marianne for giving me the opportunity to do an ongoing guest feature on her terrific blog. I hope I can bring a unique perspective to the Frugal Faithful!

A little bit about me, I reside in northern California with my wife (a stay-at-home mom) and our 3 young kids (6y, 3y, 11months). I own and operate a website called Rather-Be-Shopping.com which specializes in online coupons for over 500 stores, organized in 23 shopping categories. I also have a blog, where I write about frugal living, saving money tips, and other musings. I stay very busy but I would not want it any other way!

As I mentioned I live in northern California in the Sacramento Valley, where it gets HOT! By hot, I mean 110 degree days are fairly common come mid-July. The weather currently is starting to get pretty warm and thoughts of 110 degree days are creeping out of the crevices of my mind like a rattlesnake in Death Valley. This has got me thinking of some frugal ways of lowering your cooling bill this summer. I wanted to share some tips that I have used in the past with great success.

~ Invest In A Whole House Fan - We put one in our home a few years ago and it is great. They are typically installed in the hallway ceiling of the home. When turned on, it works by pulling in the cool air from the outside and bringing it in the house and sending the hot air into your attic and out the exterior vents. I open up the windows and sliding doors and turn it on around 9 pm and then again at about 6:00 am all summer long and it cools off the house at least 5-10 degrees. If you live in an area of the country that is very humid the house fan may not be as affective.

~ Plant A Tree - Two years ago we planted a couple Crepe Myrtle trees in front of our living room and bedroom window and this summer they will be big enough to shade the window all afternoon. Not only do they add to the landscape but they provide valuable shade. A great investment!

~ Curtain Call - Keep shades and curtains closed when direct sunlight is hitting the windows. This is a great way to keep the cool air in and the hot sunlight out.

~ Programmable Thermostat - If you don't have one, get one! They are not very expensive. You can pick up a quality one for around $50. We have a White-Rodgers brand thermostat and have been very happy with it. The cool thing about them (no pun intended) is that you can program them to have your A/C unit turned down when you are not home and then have it click back to your desired temperature shortly before you arrive. I don't recommend having your A/C set to off when you are not home because in the long run you will end up using more power getting your home back to your desired temperature.

~ Make Use Of Ceiling Fans - Run them counter-clockwise to disperse the air. This will force the air down towards the floor which creates a nice breeze. Stagnant air is much less comfortable than feeling a breeze across your face from a fan. By doing this, you may be able to stand have your A/C set at 78 degrees or higher.

~ Replace Air Filters - Dirty filters restrict air flow and make your entire cooling system less efficient. Replace them monthly during the summer months. Again, not very expensive and well worth it.

So other than living in your swimming pool, how do you keep your cooling bill as low as possible? I know this is only a partial list so I look forward to more ideas. Finally, here are some online coupons that may be able to help you save some additional money getting your house ready for summer.

Smith + Noble Blinds.com
Save 15% OFF your ENTIRE order (New Customers Only)
Coupon Code: SAVE-8PCF
Expiration: 5/28/08
See All Coupons For: Smith + Noble.com

Ace Hardware.com
Save $20 OFF your $125+ order thru this Link Only (Discount appears at checkout)
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 4/30/08
See All Coupons For: Ace Hardware.com

Gardener's Supply Company.com
Save 10% Off your $75 or more Online Order thru this Link Only
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 5/29/08
See All Coupons For: Gardeners Supply Co.

Save $10 OFF your $150+ order + Free Shipping
Coupon Code: 10200509
Expiration: 4/24/08
See All Coupons For: Blinds.com

Home Annex.com
Save 5% Off your Entire Online Order + Free Shipping
Coupon Code: HARBS06
Expiration: 12/31/08
See All Coupons For: Home Annex.com

Better Homes and Gardens Store.com
Save $15 Off your $100 or more Online Order
Coupon Code: SAVE15
Expiration: 5/31/08
See All Coupons For: Better Homes and Gardens Store

Thanks for the great ideas, Kyle, on how to lower our cooling bills this summer. I'd like to add my two cents by noting that the IRS offers Tax Credits to individuals who make home improvements that increase the energy efficiency of their homes.

Read the IRS article here which details what types of home improvements are eligible for the credits then be sure to save your receipts for next year's filing.

You'll also see at the bottom of the IRS article that purchasing a hybrid vehicle may make you eligible for a tax credit. If filling up at the gas station lately is causing you to hyperventilate- like me! - read how the tax credit could help you should you decide to go hybrid.


Kyle @ Rather-Be-Shopping said...

Marianne, excellent advice on checking into IRS tax credits on energy efficient home improvements. That did not even cross my mind. I am going to bookmark that IRS article for future reference!

Thanks again for opportunity to do the weekly guest feature!

Andrea said...

Hey Marianne - I've tagged you for a memes that just hit me. Share "7 random and weird things about myself."