Beat the Heat, but Conserve Too!

Now that it's officially summer, let's talk about how you can stay comfortable at home even when the temperatures rise. Utility rates typically rise in the summer to follow the increased demand, so it's even more important to conserve energy where you can so you can save on your bill, or at least keep it from climbing too high.

There are easy, inexpensive changes you can make in and around your home to help with your comfort, and there are more long-term investments that can leave a huge impact on your home's energy efficiency.

Inexpensive Options

  • Turn your thermostat up a degree or two. You might be surprised to find it's almost as comfortable, and you'll save money on your utility bill.
  • Use your ceiling fans. They require much less electricity than the air conditioner, and they help keep YOU cool in a room. When you're not occupying a room, turn off the fan to help wear and tear.
  • Hang curtains. Blackout and thermal curtains are one of the best ways to block out light and heat during the summer. But, with the exception of sheer panels, just about any curtain will help to some extent. I recently replaced the valance in my bathroom with a spare curtain (folded in half height-wise because of course we have a window that doesn't fit a standard curtain size), and it has already made a huge difference. With the way this summer is going already, I couldn't stand the thought of that harsh 5:00 sun beating through the window, past the valance, and making the bathroom feel like a sauna.
  • Keep your blinds, shades and curtains closed, especially during the day and when you aren't home. I'm not sure it gets any easier than that! However, sometimes you just have to let a couple certain stinkers be able to stare outside for birds and squirrels.


  • Use the majority of your electricity in off-peak hours. Don't wash your clothes or cook during the afternoon, when the temperatures are at their hottest. The electricity rates will be higher, and the demand from everyone else will contribute to putting a strain on the grid. Do laundry or your hair in the morning or evening.
  • Change up your cooking methods. Using your stove and oven contributes to a lot of excess heat in the kitchen. This can require our air conditioner to run more to regulate the temperature to keep things comfortable. Use a slow cooker or cooking dishes that don't require heat. (And I can hear many of you thinking, "Well, I might as well go out to eat or order takeout!" It is an option, but it can get more expensive and keeps more cars on the road.)
  • Use CFL or LED lightbulbs in all lights and lamps. Incandescent bulbs give off more heat than light, making them more energy inefficient. CFL bulbs are cooler to the touch and use less energy to give you the same end product. LED bulbs tend to give off really good light, don't have that slow-lighting tendency that CFLs do, and are the most energy efficient type of the group. The bulbs cost more in the first place, but they have the most impact on your utility bill. The lights in the above photo of our ceiling fan are LEDs, and they are amazing. They instantly reach full brightness and do a better job of lighting the room than the previous CFLs did.


An LED light bulb we recently transitioned to at home.
  • Check for cracks around windows and doors. If you can see light peeking through, then a lot of your cool air is escaping too. Patch or seal any cracks or fix anything broken to keep the air from escaping.
  • Embrace shade! A house sitting out in the open is going to bake in the hot summer sun. While it's important to make sure trees themselves don't pose a threat to your home's safety, it's beneficial to keep (or plant) trees around your home to provide shade.

More Expensive, But Very Impactful Investments

  • Have screens installed on your windows, especially if they're single-pane. They'll help cut down the harsh glare.
  • Have solar film installed, which helps with heat reduction and solar glare. Check out this post from 2012, when I had Lafayette, Shutters, Blinds and More install solar film at my former office, making a huge impact on both our comfort and our utility bill.
  • Have thermal, double-pane windows installed.
  • Insulate your attic or home. Older homes, like ours, typically don't have great insulation, and it is one of the biggest factors toward escaped energy and wasted money. If you can, look into getting fresh insulation and enjoy the comfort.
  • Invest in a Wi-Fi thermostat, like the Nest. There are many brands out there these days, but we invested in a Nest when my fiance first moved into his home. It has been so convenient to have the app, and the Nest learns your habits and adjusts the AC usage accordingly. We also have the Auto-Away feature set, so it learns when we aren't home for a long period of time, and it runs the AC less frequently, saving us tons of wasted energy and money. And because I'm a nerd, I love to check the weekly report to see how well we did, usage-wise. But all of the Wi-Fi thermostats enable you to run

What other ways do you stay cool during the heat of summer?

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