10 Easy Ways to Use Your Cooling System Less

a hand closes window blinds on a sunny day

Summer is upon is—the time for pool and beach days, BBQs, and s’mores. It’s also the time when you’re using more energy in your home to keep from sweltering. We all enjoy keeping cool indoors, but no one likes to pay high electric bills, and it's no fun to know you're wasting energy and hurting the planet we share. To save cash and go greener, use these hacks to cut down your AC use this summer.

Close Your Curtains and Shades

Letting the sun into your home to brighten it up is tempting, but it also raises the temperature. To save yourself from having to run the air to counteract this, close your curtains and shades during daylight hours. This will keep your home noticeably cooler.

Cook and Eat Outside

Dining al fresco as much as you can during the summer helps reduce the load on your cooling system. Not only are there fewer warm bodies heating up your home when you do this, your grill can dissipate its heat into the air, instead of ramping up interior temperature like your oven or stove.

AC units that have to fight with kitchen appliances end up working longer and harder. Instead of running up a large bill every time you cook, let the evening air cool you naturally while you enjoy your outdoor space!

happy people eating outside

Switch Your Light Bulbs

Not all light bulbs are created equal when it comes to keeping your home a comfortable temperature. LED light bulbs are between 20% and 50% cooler than classic bulbs. When you consider the cumulative impact of every light bulb in your house, it's clear that this small change can make a major difference.

led lightbulbs

Take Advantage of Fans

Ceiling fans don't cool the air, but they help reduce the stuffiness of a room, so it's a good idea to run them periodically, especially during the hottest parts of the day, or while you’re sleeping. The more comfortable you feel, the less you'll reach for the AC.

Turn off the AC When You Leave

When you’re out of the house, especially if it’s only going to be for a short time, turn the air conditioning off altogether. This will save quite a bit of energy, and it won’t take your home long to cool back down later.

Set Your System Strategically

If you must leave your system running when you’re not home—say, when you’re at work for an extended period of time—be sure to set the temperature strategically. Raise the temperature at least several degrees from what you set it to when you’re present in the house. Doing so has been shown to lower power bills by five to 15 percent, a significant savings.

Spend Time in the Basement

If you have a finished basement, take advantage of it as much as possible in the summer. Cool air is heavier than warm air, so your basement will be the coolest area of your home during the hot days of summer. Set up this space so you can work or relax in it, and its naturally lower temperature will help you run your air less frequently.

Cool Yourself Down with H2O

Drink ice water, take cold showers, and even run through the occasional sprinkler (pro tip: there is no such thing as being old to enjoy sprinklers). This will cool your body down naturally and keep you comfortable without burning energy.

Seal Your Windows

Windows that aren’t sealed properly will leak air, which means your air conditioner will end up running longer to maintain the desired temperature. Caulk any leaks and cracks to prevent loss of cool air.

Only Go Upstairs When You’re Ready to Sleep

It can be tempting to go up into your bedroom and lounge around, watch television, or read a book long before you’re ready to hit the hay. Instead of doing that, though, stay in the lower levels of your home as long as possible before you’re ready to sleep.

Heat rises, so the upper level of your house is bound to be a bit steamier on a hot night. The longer you can stay downstairs, the less likely you’ll be to turn down the temperature in your house before you go to sleep.