Keep Your Home Cool During the Summer — Without Breaking the Bank

It’s been an unusually hot summer in my hometown this year. There have already been days above 100 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, because I’m American), and in my town we rarely crack 95 — and that’s not until late July or early August.

With the heat causing the air conditioner to turn on more than expected, it’s time for me to get serious about keeping it a little cooler around here. Here are some ways to keep your home cooler during the sumer, and maybe even save a little money in the long run.

Service or Replace Your Air Conditioner

My home and my air conditioner are relatively new (and Energy Star compliant), so replacement isn’t a necessity. However, if you want to keep your air conditioner running at peak performance, you need to have it serviced. We service our air conditioner each year to keep it in tip-top shape.

If you have an old air conditioner, consider replacing it. If you can afford the cost, you might be surprised at how much you save each month with a newer, more energy-efficient air conditioner.

Another thing you can do is make sure that your air conditioner is in the shade. We have our conditioner surrounded by plants (placed a reasonable distance away) so that the unit is shaded and doesn’t have to work as hard.

Manage the Thermostat

This is an old trick. You can raise the thermostat when no one is home and you don’t need the house as cool. Programmable thermostats make this even easier. Open the windows at night after the sun goes down to let in the cooler air so that you rely less on the air conditioner. Then, in the morning, shut the windows early so that you don’t let in hot air as the sun comes up. You can keep your home a little cooler, and you won’t have to use as much energy (or money) to do it.

Get Rid of Air Leaks

Air leaks not only let hot air out during the winter, but also lets hot air in (and cold air out) during the summer. Check around your home for air leaks. You can use replace old weatherstripping to close off some of the leaks. You can also increase the amount of insulation you have in order to make your home more efficient overall. This can keep you cooler, and reduce what you spend.

Be Careful about Natural Lighting

Natural lighting can help you save money on your electric bill, but you do need to be careful about how you use it. You can heat up your house if you have your blinds open and you let in direct sunlight. If you want to keep things a little cooler, close the blinds on the side of the house where the sun is coming in. As the sun moves, you can shift the closed blinds. I frequently open the blinds in my home office when the sun is on the other side of the house. When the sun is on this side, I close the blinds and use my CFL lamp for light. It keeps things cooler and saves energy overall.

What are your best tips for keeping cool during the summer?

15 thoughts on “Keep Your Home Cool During the Summer — Without Breaking the Bank

  1. We’re thinking of getting an air conditioner, right now we just have a fan. Man, it’s sure gonna be one hot some over here in Toronto!

  2. Good tips! I change my air filter every 90 days. It does make a difference. I also set back the temperature (using a automatic thermostat) when I am not home.

  3. It has been nice in Vancouver and we don’t run the AC in the bedroom (except for once).

    Having proper ventilation in the attic makes a big difference too. We just had our roof done and ventilation was updated. We benefit from the breeze of a creek and the house cools off at night nicely.

    @Grayson I agree that proper covering on the windows help. We have low E coating on our windows and it has made a difference as well but I admit that we don’t have a lot of windows facing the sun during the day.

  4. Yes closed blinds helps to keep room cooler. It definitely helps to keep the down the AC cost.

  5. Acclimate yourself. 26 or 79 is a perfectly comfortable temperature inside the house in the summertime.

    Retreat to the basement. A finished basement is normally 5-10 degrees cooler and a dehumidifier takes care of the dampness.

    Treat your house like a chimney. Get window fans. In the evening have the windows on the upper floor(s) pushing the hot air out while the lower floor(s) pull air in.

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