Cut Energy Costs (and Stay Cool!) This Summer

K. Emily Bond

hand fans
Photo by K. Emily Bond

It’s already approaching 90 degrees where I live in southern Spain, but I’m reluctant to crank up the AC just yet. Why? Because these days I’m feeling a bit … frugal (i.e., cheap, miserly, and/or stingy).

Besides, living in what is popularly called “the frying pan of Europe,” I know that the real heat hasn’t even come close to sweltering us yet. And when it does, every degree over 100 will cost us big time in the energy department.

So here’s my family’s solution until the high temperatures become unbearable. We’re doing as the Spanish do: investing in some colorful and energy-efficient, handheld fans that will keep our arms toned and kid entertained.

Generally, fans -- such as the hand-painted ones pictured here -- cost anywhere from 3 to 5 Euros on the street or in the tiendas de Chinos, Chinese stores, of which there are hundreds en mi ciudad. Thankfully, my son has moved on from putting everything in his mouth to banging everything he gets his hands on, hence the investment in some fans as opposed to just one. He doesn’t chew them; rather, he destroys them one slat at a time, which can take many dedicated sessions.

Because the handheld fan is so deeply rooted in Spanish culture, especially with anything having to do with flamenco and ferias (springtime festivals), it is possible to spend a bundle on more artfully crafted ones in silk and lace – we’re talking over 100 bucks for the serious consumer.

Most of the locals I see, though, including recent transplants like us, are happy to shoot the breeze with something simple, portable, and breakable with just a dash of color.

That’s our energy-saving solution. How are you keeping cool -- and saving dinero -- this summer?

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