By Brian Acton, Credit.com
Summer’s almost here, and with it will come rising electric bills as you fight to keep your home cool and take refuge from the sweltering heat.
Luckily, there are many ways to fight astronomical air conditioning costs — here are 11.
1. Upgrade Your Windows
If your home has old windows, they might not be energy efficient. You can cut the costs of cooling your home by installing new energy-efficient windows. Some upfront cost is involved, but you’ll make it up in the long run with lower bills.
2. Seal Your Windows
Poorly sealed windows leak air, which makes your air conditioning system work harder. Caulking leaks or cracks and weather stripping your windows will prevent cool air from leaking out of your windows.
3. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats cut energy usage by adjusting temperatures while you’re away or asleep. You can program them yourself or purchase one that slowly adapts to your temperature preferences. Some can even be set up with an app away from home.
According to the Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% annually by adjusting your temperature by seven to ten degrees for eight hours a day. Programmable thermostats can automate the process.
4. Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans circulate cool air, taking some of the burden off your air conditioning system. Use your existing ceiling fans (or install them throughout the house) to increase energy efficiency.
5. Replace Your HVAC Air Filters
Air filters keep your HVAC system running smoothly by preventing dust from blocking your vents and promoting air circulation. If the filters are dirty, your system will have to work harder to circulate air.
You’ll want to replace your filters at least every few months, and possibly more if you have pets or kids. Luckily, air filters are cheap and easy to switch by yourself.
6. Avoid Cooking Indoors
Cooking on an oven or stovetop generates a lot of heat, which strains your air conditioning system. The summer months are great for outdoor cooking, and grilling outside a couple times a week can help. Alternatively, you can use appliances that throw off less heat, such as crockpots or electric griddles. Speaking of crockpots, here are eight ways they help you save money.
7. Reduce the Sunlight
Sunlight streaming in through your windows raises the temperature of your home. By blocking the sunlight, you can calm that effect. Planting some shade trees outside your windows can curb encroaching sunlight while blackout shades or curtains are another low-cost option.
8. Insulate Your Walls & Attics
Windows aren’t the only part of your home that leak air. Attics, walls and crawl spaces lose air as well. Professionally insulating your home is one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency. If you have an older home, this could be worth the investment.
9. Find Lower Ground
Heat rises, so avoid the upper floors of your home as much as possible. By doing this, you can probably leave your thermostat set to a higher temperature for longer periods during the day. You can lower the temperature at night if your bedroom’s upstairs.
10. Get Your Air Conditioning System Serviced
Hiring a local contractor to service your air conditioning system can keep your system working efficiently. Your contractor should clean outdoor coils, check voltage connections and make sure the refrigerant is at proper levels.
11. Install Solar Panels
Solar panels, which are usually installed on roofs, use the sun’s energy to power a home, which can greatly reduce cooling costs. The price for installing these panels depends on whether they’re bought or leased, and the amount you save on your bill will depend on your energy usage and system.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.