10. Run appliances at night
Dishwashers and clothes dryers generally emit heat as they run, and that can make your air conditioner run harder. Use such appliances after the day cools down.
Another way to save energy is to turn off the dishwasher before the dry cycle is complete. Open it up, and let the dishes air dry.
A time-honored laundry-drying method that costs next to nothing is installing an old-fashioned clothesline and letting your laundry air dry.
11. Close the drapes
In the heat of the day, keep drapes and blinds closed on windows that face the sun. Once the temperature outside drops below the indoor temperature, open window coverings and throw open windows.
Consider lining draperies with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun’s heat, the National Association of Realtors says.
Two sets of drapes hung together, sometimes called “double-hung” drapes, reduces heat as well “Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33 percent,” says the Department of Energy.
Hang draperies close to windows to keep heat from escaping.
12. Plant trees
Plant leafy deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the fall, on the east and west sides of your home to shade it from the rising and setting sun. In winter, the bare branches will let the sunshine through to help warm the home.
Also consider locating trees or shrubs in other spots where their shade can help, such as near air-conditioning units, patios, driveways and walkways.
13. Use big potted plants and vines
While you’re waiting for trees planted in the ground to grow, put large pots with trees or vines on trellises in front of sunny windows or hot exterior walls to help shade those areas.
14. Use ceiling fans correctly
Switch ceiling fan blades so they’re rotating counter-clockwise in summer and clockwise in winter. These fans have a toggle switch on the fan body that changes the rotation of the blades.
Fans cool your body, not the room air, so turn all fans off when you leave a room.
If you buy a new fan, look for Energy Star-certified ceiling fans. They are 60 percent more efficient than conventional fan/light units, saving you upwards of $20 per year on electricity, according to the EPA’s Energy Star program.
15. Stay cool with free-standing fans
Air blowing across the skin cools the body by evaporating moisture. When using a fan, direct the breeze at yourself and keep a spritz bottle close, misting yourself occasionally.
16. Use an attic fan
Attic fans help pull in cooler outside air and push out warm air through attic vents, taking a load off your air conditioner.
17. Close doors and registers
Don’t waste energy or money cooling the entire house if you’re using just a few rooms. Close registers or vents in any rooms you don’t use, keeping cool air from flowing freely into those rooms through air ducts.
For more tips on keeping cool, read:
- “5 Strange Ways to Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning”
- “8 Air Conditioner Parts You Can’t Afford to Neglect”
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