Tips to Save Money While Keeping Your Home Cool This Summer

Miranda Boutelle has more than 20 years of experience helping people save energy. She has worked on energy-efficiency projects from the Midwest to the West Coast. Today, Miranda is the director of operations and customer engagement at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy-efficiency company.

Service Your AC Unit

Air conditioning units work by moving air over fins or coils that contain refrigerant. When the coils get dirty, the unit doesn’t work as well and uses more energy.

Whether you have a portable unit, central AC, or a ductless/mini-split, get it ready for the summer by cleaning the filter, coils, and fins. If you are going to tackle this yourself, always disconnect the power to the unit.

Central AC systems have 2 sets of coils: 1 inside and 1 outside. Both should be cleaned annually. A professional can check refrigerant levels during the process.

Thermostat Settings

Keeping your thermostat at the highest comfortable temperature will save you money. If you aren’t home during the day, increase your thermostat by 8 to 10 degrees. Don’t cool an empty house.

Keep Your Cool

Before adjusting the thermostat, turn on a fan in the room you’re in, change into lighter clothing, and drink something cool. This may be enough to make you comfortable without spending more to cool your home. Finding the balance between comfort and savings is key.

Seal Your Window AC Unit

If you have a window or portable AC unit that vents through a window, seal the area between the window sashes. Water heater pipe insulation is a great product to seal this spot. It’s available at local hardware stores and is easy to cut to a snug fit.

Weatherstripping & Curtains

Covering and sealing windows may seem like a wintertime efficiency practice, yet these help in the summer, too. Windows are typically the least-insulated surface in a room. Add weatherstripping to form a tight seal and curtains you can close during the hottest times of the day to block out the sun.

Cook Alfresco

Keep your home cool and your AC from working overtime by cooking outside. My grill has an extra burner on the side that lets me do stovetop cooking outside, too.

Lock Windows

After opening your windows at night or in the morning to let in fresh air, ensure your windows are closed and locked once the temperature is to your liking. This reduces gaps that allow air to flow through and cause drafts. If your locks don’t form a tight fit, add weatherstripping. Most products are easy to install.

Add Insulation

Even in the summer, adding insulation can keep your home more comfortable and save energy used by your air conditioning system. As a general rule, if you can see the joists on the floor of your attic, you need more insulation.

Add Shade Outside

Several years ago, we planted a hedge on the south side of our home. I was surprised how much cooler it made the house in the summertime. Planting trees and shrubs strategically around your home can shade the roof, walls, and pavement, reducing heat radiation to your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tree-shaded neighborhoods can be up to 6 degrees cooler in the daytime than treeless areas. Before buying a tree or shrub, check with your city or local nursery about free or discounted tree programs.

Turn Off Gas Fireplaces

Reducing the amount of heat entering your home can keep it cooler, especially if you don’t have AC. If you have a gas fireplace, your pilot light lets off a small amount of heat into the room. Consider turning it off in the summer.