hand turning thermostatSoaring summer temperatures mean electric bills for many homeowners are on the way up too. A well-insulated home with an efficient air conditioning system is the best way to keep your energy bill down, but you don’t have to make major upgrades to enjoy savings. Here are five simple ways you can help keep your cooling bill down this summer.

  1. Become a fan of fans. Ceiling and circulating fans can make your home feel as much as 8 degrees cooler and save up to 40 percent on air conditioning bills. Make sure your ceiling fans are set to summer mode – rotating counterclockwise to blow downward – and turn off any fans when not in use.
  2. Roll back your thermostat. If you can stand the heat, turning your thermostat up a few degrees is a guaranteed way to save. A programmable or smart thermostat (such as the popular Nest brand) can help further by adjusting the temperature when you’re away or asleep. These strategies can shave as much as 10 to 20 percent off your bills.
  3. Keep your AC flowing free. You can’t completely set and forget your air conditioner and expect it to keep running at maximum efficiency. Old air filters, blocked vents and dirty evaporator and condenser coils will all make your system work harder than needed. Clean or replace your filters once a month (to save as much as 5 percent to 10 percent on energy), keep vents free of dust and obstructions and clean the outdoor portion of your AC equipment as well as trim back foliage to at least two feet away.
  4. Don’t help the heat. It’s hard enough to beat the sun’s heat without contributing any of your own. Whenever it’s hotter outdoors than in, consider delaying or avoiding activities that generate heat. Cooking, appliance use (especially dishwashers and clothes dryers) and bathing are some prime culprits. Consider putting off these chores until after dark when temperatures fall. Exhaust fans can also help to purge the heat from these sources. Replacing older incandescent lightbulbs with modern, cooler LED ones is another way to cut down on excess heat production.
  5. Shut out the sun. A sun-filled home is a lovely sight, but it can make for a scary electric bill on hot days. Keeping the sun out with proper curtains, blinds or shades can save as much as 45 percent in cooling costs. Insulated window treatments that are light-colored or reflective and hung close to the glass will have the best effect.

For more energy-saving tips, check out this page from energy.gov. Stay cool out there!