One of my closest friends is adamant about not using his air conditioning.
From a cheapskate perspective, it makes sense. If he’s not paying a dime for air conditioning, his energy bills during the summer months are going to be very low. He’s going to save money and that’s going to help him achieve his other goals in life.
His usual technique for making summer palatable, then, is to just spend a ton of time outside, even on the hottest days. By being outside all the time, the hot temperatures don’t bother him too much, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate a cool breeze.
A few weeks ago, I went to visit him. We went into his house where it was stifling hot compared to the cool breeze we felt outside.
I looked around and noticed that his windows were all shut and suggested that he open them.
He looked around for a minute, then started opening them up. “You know, just opening the windows when it’s cool … it never really crosses my mind. I just stay outside.”
When the temperature is between about 66 and 80 outside, we turn off the heating and cooling and just let the air outside control the temperature our house. We open up all of the windows and enjoy the breeze that comes through. The only time we close the windows is if a storm rolls in or if the temperature gets too hot or too cold.
This use of windows seems completely normal to me. Why wouldn’t you do this? You get to enjoy fresh air and you save money by not using any extra energy.
So, the last time it was in the seventies in the evening, I took a stroll around my neighborhood like I often do on nice days, but this time I kept my eyes open for windows. Most of the houses had their windows shut tight, even when people were obviously home. The number of houses where people had lots of windows open was decidedly in the minority. I heard quite a few air conditioning units running, too.
It’s such a simple move – and it saves a lot of money in the spring, early summer, late summer, and fall.
So often, when I write about a particular tip that saves money, it seems really obvious. Yet, time and time again, I witness people not doing the “obvious” thing in their day to day lives. They don’t think about it. They didn’t realize the “obvious” tip would save them money. They got busy and just didn’t do it.
I’m even guilty of it sometimes. The most obvious thing will slip my mind or go right past my observations and I’ll find myself wasting energy or doing something completely counterproductive.
Sometimes, it just takes a gentle reminder of the obvious to get us to do the sensible thing.
So, here’s another gentle reminder of a simple tactic. If you notice that the outdoor temperature is comfortable and it’s a clear day, turn off your air conditioning or furnace and open some windows. Let the fresh air in. You’ll save money and your house will smell wonderfully fresh.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.