hot old women istock june 2011It’s getting hot outside. How to stay cool inside without breaking the bank.

School’s out for a long, hot, humid summer. But as you crank up your AC to beat the heat, there are myriad ways you can make sure your cooling bills don’t rise with the mercury.

20+ Summer Home Energy Tips

1. Get a free online home energy report. It takes just 5 minutes.

2. Get an Energy Assessment: Get a comprehensive home energy assessment performed by a Building Performance Institute certified auditor. You will receive a prioritized list of where and how you can get the biggest bang for your buck in energy savings. Bonus: they do a health and safety check that protects homeowners from hidden hazards such as gas leaks, carbon monoxide and excess moisture. Learn more about home energy assessments. 

3. Turn up your Thermostat (No Cost!): Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees when you are away, especially when on vacation.  Use a programmable thermostat to work with your schedule so that it is a few degrees higher when no one is home to avoid cooling an empty house.

4. Use Ceiling Fans (No Cost!): Use your ceiling fan so air blows downward on you inside your home. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you know you wil be out for at least 30-45 minutes make sure to turn the fan off to save energy

5. Curtail Inefficient Appliances and Lighting: If appliances like your refrigerator are at least 10 years old, consider upgrading to a new, efficient model. There have been major advances in efficiency of these units in recent years.  Identify the 10-12 lighting fixtures that you use most often and replace those bulbs with energy efficient CFLs or LEDs.

6. Replace Air Conditioner Filters: Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer, increasing energy use. Replace filters according to package directions for maximum benefits. Don’t switch from flat to pleated filters without asking your HVAC contractor to adjust the system to match.

7. Service your HVAC System: Remember to have your HVAC system serviced regularly and have the necessary system checks performed   to insure  that it is running at maximum efficiency.

8. Caulk and Seal Gaps: Air leaks can waste energy dollars year-round.  Caulking cracks and weather stripping your home will keep cool air in during the summer and cold air out during the winter.

9. Keep Dampers Shut (No Cost!): Check to see that your fireplace damper is tightly closed.

10. Have Duct Systems Inspected: Get an inspection to pinpoint areas of concern.  Ducts in crawl spaces & attics are a priority to check.

11. Add Insulation: Insulate your attic to keep the outside heat from sneaking into your home and warming the air you’re paying to keep cool.

12. Use the Microwave (No Cost!): Using the oven takes more energy and can end up warming your home during the summer months.  Use the microwave instead to use 2/3 less energy and heat the food directly or grill outside.

13. Lighten Your Bed (No Cost!): Remove heavy blankets or covers on your bed that were added during the winter.

14. Decorate your Interior with Lighter Colors: Doing so will make you feel cooler and deflect radiant heat.

15. Send Humid Shower Air Out: Use the exhaust fan, have one installed, or open the bathroom window while showering to send moist, hot air outside.  Make sure to close the bathroom door so that humidity doesn’t enter other rooms in the house, and close the window once the room is ventilated.

16. Ventilate Your Home on Cooler Mornings (No Cost!): Try opening your windows in the morning and closing up before the mid-day heat hits to efficiently cool your home.  If your house is well insulated, it will stay cooler throughout the day so you don’t have to rely on your thermostat for comfort.

17. Install Window Shading: Install blinds, patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home when the sun is at its strongest.

18. Close Curtains to Block out Strong Sunlight (No Cost!): Close the curtains and shades of south & west facing windows before leaving for the day to keep the sun’s rays from heating your home.  Use white shades and curtains to reflect light and heat.

Ideas for Energy Efficiency Outside that will Keep You Cool Inside…

19. Shade your Air Conditioning Unit: Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, but be sure to not block airflow. Units should have 2’ to 3’ of free space on all sides.  A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity.

20. Landscape Effectively: Avoid landscaping with unshaded rock, cement or asphalt on the south or west sides. Doing so will increase the temperature around your house and radiate heat to the house after the sun goes down.

22. Plant a Tree: Mature shade trees not only look beautiful, they can also cut your cooling bills. Check with a local nursery to find out which tress are best to plant for your area.


spring weather tips older insulation hot + cold + drafty rooms moisture + mold
summer weather tips older appliances leaky windows + doors asthma + respiratory illness
fall weather tips older HVAC common upgrades
winter weather tips water efficiency for professionals