There are many ways to keep your AC bill low this summer.

There are many ways to keep your AC bill low this summer.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cooling your home will account for about half of your home’s energy use. And with some active adults living on a fixed budget, it’s crucial to minimize costs whenever possible.

Sure, a blast of cold air can be a sweet relief on a hot summer day, but it can also end up hurting your pockets when the energy bill comes in at the end of the month. Read on below to find out how you can beat the heat while still keeping those AC bills down this summer.

Add Fans/Ceiling Fans

A major key in keeping your home cool throughout the summer is by circulating the air inside of the home. You can use floor fans or ceiling fans to move the air around your home. Best of all -- they aren’t expensive to run or purchase. Some basic ceiling fans start at $40 and can be bought at any hardware store. Although they won’t actually lower the temperature by much, they do help you keep cool with a nice breeze. While fans and ceiling fans use electricity, they don’t use as much as an electric air conditioner.

Use Drapes to Block Out Sunlight

Invest in some insulated blackout drapes or curtains that block out any direct sunlight from entering your home during the day. Direct sunlight can raise your room temperature by at least ten degrees. Blackout curtains typically are made of durable fabric that acts as insulation and prevents heat from coming in your home as well as keeping cold breezes out during the winter, which in the end saves you money and conserves energy. You can find these types of curtains online or at a major retailer store at reasonable prices.

Take Cool Showers

A quick, cool shower will make you feel fresh instantly on a hot day. The cooling effect of a cold shower also lasts longer on your skin because you are letting the water evaporate slowly from your body. You can also stay cool longer when taking quick showers before bedtime for a restful and refreshing night’s sleep. But, of course, keep the cool showers short so as to not run up your water bill.

Open Windows at Night

Opening windows at night to let a cool breeze in is great for cooling down your home without running up your AC bill. This passive cooling method allows for hot air to escape from inside your home while letting cooler air at night circulate throughout your home. You should try to open windows on opposite sides of your house so the air circulates evenly. It’s also best to turn off any lights when not in use in order to not create any unnecessary heat as lights do create a lot of heat. You should also replace your lights with compact fluorescent bulbs, which use 75% less energy and create about 70% less heat.

Plant Leafy Trees Outside of Your Home

Another way to keep your home cool during the summer is to plant leafy trees around the outside of your home. These leafy trees can help block out direct sunlight from entering your home and accumulating heat inside. And, if you have some trees or shrubs that give some shade on your outdoor air conditioning unit, it can also increase your AC’s efficiency by ten percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Add Solar Screens

Solar screens are special mesh window treatments that reflect more sunlight than regular window screens. It can block about 60 - 70% of heat from direct sunlight, which means you will have a cooler home. Solar screens are easy to install and can be purchased at any home improvement store. Another option is window films, which are transparent and metalized sheets that reflect heat before it can be transmitted through glass. But the only difference is that window films need windows to be shut for it to work, while solar screens allow windows to be kept open while keeping sun and bugs out.

Avoid Using Your Stove During the Day

If you’re thinking about baking a pie in the oven or boiling a stew on the stovetop, you may want to hold off on it on a hot day. Using your stove and oven on a hot day will only increase your home’s indoor heat, making it stuffier and warmer instead of cool and fresh. It’s best to prepare food at night when the temperature is cooler and the breeze can circulate throughout your home. It’s also easier to keep cool by eating foods that don’t require heat for preparation like salads, sandwiches, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Install Programmable Thermostats

If you must use your AC during the dog days of summer, then you should install a programmable thermostat, which can help you cut down on energy costs. Set your AC to a reasonable temperature when you’re home and a different temperature when you’re away. There’s no need to keep your house cold when you’re not there to enjoy it. Pre-programmed settings on your thermostat will help you run your air conditioner less frequently and reduce your annual energy bills by at least ten percent.