Energy bills can go through the roof in the summer. But rising temperatures don’t mean your costs need to climb, too. In fact, there are ways to quickly cut down on energy spending by at least 25 percent without braving the sweltering heat, says Gary Wollenhaupt, founder of ProudGreenHome.com, a site for making homes more energy-efficient.
Try these seven hacks to help cool your home without spending extra on the AC:
1. Avoid Humidity
High humidity can make it feel a few degrees warmer inside. Get rid of excess moisture in the air by using range hoods when cooking. Take shorter, colder showers with the bathroom fan running—and keep the fan on for another 20 minutes afterward, says Wollenhaupt. (You can also use a dehumidifier; read more in “Why To Use A Dehumidifier This Summer.”)
2. Get Smart
Next-gen “smart” thermostats automatically adjust to weather and learn your living patterns. Plus, they automatically go into “away” mode when sensors don’t pick up movement during the day. Or you can switch them off remotely via an app to conserve energy when out of town. (Read about more smart gadgets you can use to improve your home.)
3. Be A Fan
“A fan is great to use in conjunction with AC to help circulate the air more efficiently,” says Seth Leitman, an environmental consultant and founder of The Green Living Guy. In fact, because a fan can evaporate perspiration from the skin, it can sometimes feel just as effective as AC. Install a ceiling fan to draw out hot air.
4. Go Dark
Keeping shades and curtains drawn during the hottest times of the day (between noon and 4 p.m.) can help keep the room cool, says Leitman. Choose honeycomb shades, which are designed to trap hot air, or consider drapes with an interlining that are specifically labeled for energy efficiency. (It also helps protect your furniture and belongings against sun damage.)
5. Put Down Roots
Planting trees or high shrubs outside the sunniest spots in the home is a natural way to reduce heat indoors, says Wollenhaupt. Choose trees that are native to the area to reduce maintenance. To avoid the interference of roots with the building’s foundation, don’t plant them too close to the house. (Learn how to plant storm-safe trees.)
6. Stick A Film On It
Tinting uncovered windows or screen doors that are facing the sun can keep heat out during the summer months, says Wollenhaupt. Applying a thin reflective film on clean glass keeps out the majority of the heat without sacrificing the view, he adds.
7. Find A New Normal
Most homeowners won’t notice the difference if they leave the thermostat a few degrees warmer than their norm. “Set your thermostat at as high a temperature as comfortably possible,” says Wollenhaupt, who adds that keeping the air as high as 78 degrees can be a good bet in the summer months.
By Alina Dizik