7 Simple Ways to Cut Your Home Cooling Costs

Staying comfortable through the summer often comes at a price (after all, air conditioning ain't cheap). If your energy bills have your blood pressure rising faster than the mercury in the thermometer, don't miss these tips on maximizing comfort with the AC turned off and minimizing expense with it turned on. Keep your cool without losing your live savings—yes, it's possible!

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  1. Keep Your Cool


    Is the heat getting to you? Everyone knows that air conditioning can get expensive. But not everyone knows about these simple, budget-minded ways to keep your cool. Read on for beat-the-heat suggestions to help you stay sane through the dog days of summer.


  2. Seek Shade


    The advent of air conditioning has led many homeowners to disregard the low-tech coping strategies that worked decently well for people even in the recent past. Surround your home with shade-creating elements, such as landscaping, awnings, or trelliswork, to reduce the amount of solar heat gain within spaces indoors. 


  3. Dinner Alfresco


    Operating the oven or stovetop inevitably generates heat in the kitchen, the heart of any home. Of course, the answer is not to forego dinner. Instead, opt for lighter meals that can be prepared with little or no cooking time. And if possible, do your more serious cooking over the grill outdoors on your deck, patio, or lawn. 

    Related—How To: Grill Like a Pro


  4. The Stack Effect


    Pursue what's known as the stack effect. To achieve it, open the windows on both the upper and lower floors, and as warm air exits the upper level, cooler air will come in at ground level (where you might consider sleeping). During the day—though it may seem counterintuitive—close the windows to maintain cooler indoor temperatures.


  5. Bring On Evaporation


    Evaporative coolers are making a comeback of sorts, particularly in dry climates, where these simple machines can lower the air temperature by five degrees or more (by blowing air through wetted pads). No, evaporative coolers are no substitute for air conditioning on a sweltering day, but they are cheaper to operate when the heat is not extreme.


  6. Size Matters


    Some days, air conditioning is a must—that's unavoidable. What you can avoid, however, is paying more than is strictly necessary to run your AC. Efficiency begins with a unit that's properly sized for the space. An oversized unit may cool the room quickly, but if it switches off before lowering the humidity, you're still going to feel clammy and uncomfortable.

    Related—How To: Choose the Right Size Air Conditioner


  7. Ductwork Detective Work


    Leaks in ductwork can reduce the efficiency of your central air conditioning system by as much as 40 percent. Calling in a HVAC professional may not seem like a good way to save money, but if your electric bills seem exorbitant, it's worth looking into. In the long run, you're likely to save more in operating costs than you would have to pay the pro.


  8. Plug the Leaks


    It's not only ductwork that needs sealing. The average house is like a sieve, with air leaking in and out all over. Getting the best bang for your cooling buck depends on the building being air-tight. An energy audit can tell you where to focus your efforts when it comes to caulking or applying foam sealant. Or you can plug air leaks wherever you encounter them, from the basement on up to the attic.


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