Summer is in full swing, and we’ve been experiencing the hottest days on record in many regions. If your air conditioner (AC) has been running non-stop and your utility bills are soaring along with the temps, think about implementing these energy efficient tips and tools. Small home upgrades and a few changes in how you approach hot weather can save you money and keep your family more comfortable.

Control your thermostat.

Take advantage of the programmable functions of your home’s thermostat. Adjusting your thermostat when you’re not home can lighten your bills year-round. You can also conserve energy by choosing not to use your appliances during peak demand hours, which is typically around 4-7 PM, when electricity prices are highest. Most U.S. households can save up to $180 in annual energy costs by being mindful of your thermostat usage. Contact your utility to learn more about programs they may offer to reduce your energy consumption and lower your utility bills.

Feel the breeze.

If you use a fan and air conditioner simultaneously, you can raise your thermostat setting by four degrees yet keep the same level of comfort you felt on the cooler setting. Set your ceiling fan’s blades to spin counterclockwise to create a cool breeze. Remember that fans cool people but not rooms, so only use fans only in rooms that are occupied.

Darker is better.

Your window curtains, shades and blinds can be a great ally against summer rays. To help your home stay cool, keep window coverings closed in the daytime when the sun is brightest and hottest. If your windows are older or you get a lot of direct sun, closing shades or curtains matters even more. 

Fill the gaps.

Speaking of windows, caulking and sealing gaps in your windows and doors where cool indoor air can escape is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to create a stronger barrier and improve your home’s efficiency. This will help reach your desired temperature quicker thus reducing the amount of time your HVAC unit will need to run and put less strain on the system, thus expanding the equipment’s lifespan.

Light the way.

Still have old incandescent bulbs? They lose 90% of their energy as heat. By replacing just five of these bulbs with LEDs, you can save up to $100 per year in energy costs. Avoid the extra bulb heat that adds to your cooling costs, too!

Consider your timing.

Heat-producing tasks such as drying laundry, using a dishwasher, and cooking can make your AC work harder. If you can time these chores for a cool part of the day or use other appliances like a grill or toaster oven, you will help keep energy costs down and your living space more comfortable.

Look for the ENERGY STAR®.

About 6% of the average U.S. household’s energy use goes to space cooling. When buying an AC or other appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR label, which signifies a product is among the most efficient on the market. Choose the smallest unit appropriate for the size of your living space to get the best value. Many tags also have average energy use and estimated annual cost, so you can make an informed decision on your appliance purchase.

Check with your local utility to see if they offer rebates and/or discounts on ENERGY STAR programmable or smart thermostats, LED bulbs, and cooling equipment.

You’re invited! Visit for more tips and to join hundreds of people and organizations celebrating Energy Efficiency Day on October 4, 2023.