If you’re like most people in the country, you’ve noticed how hot it has been this summer. In fact, in many parts of the country, heat waves have been responsible for soaring temperatures—and soaring electric bills. But even if you live on the coast, where ocean breezes can keep homes cooler than in inland areas—or certainly the middle of the state—everyone can benefit from these tips for saving energy and keeping your home cool this summer.

1. Air Conditioning

Experts recommend setting your air conditioning at 78 degrees when you are home to cool your home without breaking the bank. Set the thermostat higher while you’re away so you aren’t throwing money away on a cool home with no one in it. “A programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs,” said Energy Star

A little maintenance on your air conditioner, like cleaning leaves and debris from the unit and changing out your filters regularly can also help it to work efficiently, which can save you money.

In the market for a new air conditioner? According to Energy Star, an ENERGY STAR qualified air conditioning unit “can cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200.” And if you are able to install your air conditioner in the shade, it will use less energy than on that’s “in direct sunlight,” said Consumer Energy.

2. Windows

Sunlight coming into your windows in the summertime turns into heat. The higher the temperature, the more heat entering your home. Blocking or diffusing the sun with window coverings such as drapes, shutters, or window film can help you cut down on your cooling costs.

“Line (windows) with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day,” said HouseLogic. “Or, Install window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter.” If you want to keep your windows bare from the inside, awnings installed on south- and west-facing windows can reduce solar heat gain by up to 77 percent, said the U.S. Department of Energy.

Also be sure to open windows when the temperature drops at night to cool your home the natural way. Opening windows on opposite walls creates cooling cross breezes

3. Ceiling Fans

A ceiling fan isn’t just for decoration. It can actually make a space feel cooler and “allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort” when you are using your air conditioner, according to

HouseLogic reminds that, for maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up.” And, don’t forget to “turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.”

4. Everything Else

Once you have addressed your air conditioner, your windows, and your ceiling fan, there are still a few things you can do to further curb your cooling costs.

• Install a whole-house ventilating fan. A whole-house fan can be installed in an attic or in an upstairs window to circulate air.

• If possible, keep appliances, lamps, and anything else that emits heat away from your thermostat to avoid false readings that can make your air conditioner run longer.

• When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home, said

• Close registers and doors in unused rooms so you are not spending money to cool down empty spaces.

• Operate your stove, oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer in the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside to give your air conditioner a break, said Consumer Energy. 

Use a few of these tips and tricks, and you’re sure to cool down your home without heating up your wallet.

Do you have another tip you’d like to add?  Let us know in the comments below! 

Lead image courtesy of Flickr user newsusacontent.