This year, the cost of electricity in my area increased by 7 percent. The electric company also introduced a new rate system so you pay anywhere from 31 to 83 percent more per kWh during the summer months of June through September, compared to the rest of the year.
We live in an older home, and we haven’t gotten to all the energy efficiency improvements on our to-do list. So that meant our electric bill would soon look like a second mortgage payment.
First, we tried inching the thermostat up one degree every couple weeks, to see if we could get used to it. But when the temperature consistently hits above 100 outside your house, your air conditioning still has to work awful hard just to keep the temperature at 78 or 79 inside.
Our bill was STILL going to be huge, and all we had to show for our effort was a steady stream of elbow sweat.
So we moved downstairs.
Why We Became Mole People
Basements aren’t common in Texas. But our house was built in a hilly area, so we lucked out with a sort-of-basement for the bottom floor.
It has one bedroom, a small living area, and one bathroom. It’s pretty well insulated from the extreme temperatures, so it stays fairly cool without the A/C having to run all day.
We know this because we recently installed Nest thermostats upstairs and downstairs, thanks to generous rebates from our electric company and a couple gift certificates. If you haven’t heard of Nest before, it’s a thermostat for the smartphone generation.
You can change the temperature in your house from anywhere, using an app on your phone or tablet – this makes you much more likely to bump up the temperature when you leave if you know you can cool it back down 30 minutes before you’ll be home. The Nest also has some cool tricks for cooling your house down without cranking your A/C full blast. And the Nest keeps track of how much your A/C runs.
Our A/C upstairs was running 12 hours a day just to keep the house at 79 degrees. But our downstairs A/C was running half that amount of time to keep that floor a much more comfortable 74 degrees.
You mean I can spend a relaxing evening in my house WITHOUT my thighs sticking together? AND save money on my electric bill?
Yes, I would like that very much.
Where We Live Now
All of us – including 5-year-old Abby, newborn Bailey, Ty, me, and our five cats – moved downstairs for the summer until it cools off out there. (In Austin, that’ll be late October.)
We go upstairs only to do laundry and make meals, and we keep the temperature up there at a sweltering 85.
Sometimes you just have to chew off a limb to save yourself.
And downstairs, we have our very own summer beach cottage – minus the beach. And the cottage.
10 Easy Ways to Decorate for Summer
Our summer cottage sure doesn’t look like a summer cottage. The walls and trim and ceiling are a dingy white, and the carpet has seen better days. So we’re looking for cheap ways to spruce it up.
Below are a few of the ideas I’ve found so far.
We actually are having fun with our makeshift cottage, cramped as it may be. Abby said it’s like we’re having a backyard campout all summer long and without any bugs. However, we did learn the hard way that we should have moved our precious chocolate stash downstairs with us.
1. Hang Pretty Pictures
For our winter decor, we made a gallery-style photo wall by printing awesome Flickr photos at home, putting them in cheap frames, and slapping them up on the wall.
Here’s how to do it yourself. Make sure to follow the instructions so you don’t steal other people’s property.
Here are a few of the photos we found for summer.
Cost: $7.98 per 8×10 framed photo
2. Put Your Linens on Display
If your towels are a summery color, pull them out of the cabinet and put them in this wall rack to add a splash of color to your wall – no paint necessary.
Bonus? This towel holder doubles as a wine rack. You never know when the stress of a shower is going to get to you. (Just be sure to stock it with screw-tops.)
Cost: $23.99 for the towel rack
3. Save Your Empties
Cost: $0-30 depending on what you get
4. Put It on a Pretty Platter
5. Wrap a Can in Rope
Take an old coffee can and some thin rope to make this vase.
Cost: $6.99 for the rope
Then fill it with paper flowers made from cupcake liners.
6. Repurpose a Basket
If you have a pendant light, replace it with a basket using this tutorial.
Cost: $8-10 for each basket
7. Corral Your Clutter
Get a simple wicker tray like this one for your coffee table or ottoman.
Cost: About $20 for the tray
8. Let the Light In
Replace your usual window covering with a sheer white curtain.
Con: No more walking around naked.
Cost: $8.79 for the curtains
9. Decorate With Words
Use wood letters to display a summertime saying, like “Fun in the Sun” or “Hello Sunshine” or “Crotch Sweat.”
Cost: $3.60 per letter, plus paint supplies
10. Make a Mirror
This project takes just two hours, and when you’re done you get a super cute piece that you made all by your very lonesome.
Cost: $20 for the supplies
For more easy home decor ideas, follow my Pinterest board Pretty Home.
How do you decorate for summer? Share your tips in a comment below!