Are you dreading the heat of summer? Relax while you consider these ingenious solutions to keep your house comfortable without putting a freeze on your bank account.


Your air conditioning unit needs freedom to blast out air unobstructed. None of your furniture should be blocking that flow of air. This means you may need to move the sofa and rearrange the bedroom the get the air circulating well. If you just can’t upset the way your furniture is arranged, you can purchase heat and air deflectors for the vents to adjust the air flow direction around furniture for the season. Ask for these at your local home improvement center such as Home Depot or Lowe’s.


Leaving blinds and drapes open when the sun’s rays are beating through the windows will turn your home into a sizzling greenhouse. Cut back on direct sunlight by closing all the blinds or other window coverings. Drapes, blinds and shades are all very effective in reflecting the heat of the sun. White ones will do an even better job. But they won’t do a lot of good unless you draw and lower the window coverings early in the morning, before the house can heat up.


Allowing an AC to run 24 hours a day is a surefire way to make your electricity bill soar. You can lighten the load by turning the unit off at night. Lower it an hour or two before bedtime. Because nighttime temperatures drop, opening the windows will allow those cooler night temperatures to keep things comfortable.


During the summer, make sure your AC unit is working at 100 percent efficiency. It will guzzle less energy when the filter is super clean.


Experiment with fine-tuning the exact temperature to establish as your default. Start at, say, 77 degrees, and then shift by one degree up or down until you’re satisfied.

Then test to see if you can tolerate 78. Every subsequent degree you accept will yield savings on your electric bill.


When you leave your house, turn off the AC. There’s no use keeping an empty house cold. As a bonus, allowing the system to take a break will prolong its useful life. Once you come home, just power the AC back on.


A programmable thermostat is a relatively inexpensive device you can install yourself, and it will more than pay for itself in a single summer. Now you won’t have to keep remembering to turn the setting up or down depending on if you are home. Simply program it to fit your lifestyle and you won’t waste money cooling the house when no one is home.

It’s easy to customize the thermostat to follow your lifestyle. For example, you can program the AC to shut off at night, turn on before breakfast, turn down again when you leave for work and adjust itself before you return. A programmable thermostat lets you set it and forget it.


Give your AC a boost with a room fan. Ceiling fans are great to circulate cooled air, but a trusty portable fan also works wonders. Fans increase general air circulation, preventing air from stagnating and accumulating unwanted heat. Combined with an AC unit, fans offer cooperative cooling.

It costs about $4 a month to run a high-efficiency ceiling fan on high speed for 12 hours a day (assuming a cost of about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is the U.S. average).

The result is your home will feel about 7 degrees cooler simply because the air is circulating effectively.

And that means your air conditioner will not have to work as hard to keep things comfortable.


Limiting use of your stove will give the AC a break from needing to work overtime.

On exceptionally hot days, stick to using the microwave, or use your outdoor grill.

Resources: If you’d like specifics on the resources mentioned above, you can find all of that at

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Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog.