living_roomIt’s summertime, and for most people that means it’s time to crank up the AC.

But air conditioning can be expensive, often adding hundreds of dollars to a household’s monthly electric bill. It’s also not eco-friendly, requiring power companies to burn more fossil fuels to provide electricity.

Fortunately, there are simple ways you can stay cool, keep your power bill down and fight climate change at the same time. Here are 8 of them.

1. Block out the sunlight. Invest in blackout drapes or wooden shutters, especially on the southern and western por-
tions of your house. Keeping out summer sunlight is one of the best ways to lower indoor temperatures.

2. Be reflective. You can further increase your home’s albedo (the amount of sunlight it reflects) by coating your south and west facing windows with reflective film. Better yet, consider replacing your windows with energy efficient low-E glass.

3. Replace incandescent light bulbs. Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs throw off a lot of heat. (They also suck up lots of electricity.) Modern compact fluorescent and LED bulbs may be more expensive initially, but they consume much less power and run much cooler.

4. Avoid cooking with the stove/oven. Like incandescent light bulbs, gas and electric stoves throw off a lot of heat when in use. During hot summer months, cook using a more heat-efficient countertop convention oven, toaster oven or microwave. Better yet, fire up the grill and cook outdoors!

5. Reverse your ceiling fans. If you have an electric ceiling fan, you should run it clockwise in the winter to force the hotter air downward, and then counter-clockwise in the summer to pull hot air up toward the ceiling. Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch that lets you make this change.

6. Get made in the shade. If you can plant trees on your home’s southern and western exposures, do so. Natural shade is an excellent long-term energy-saving investment.

7. Lower the humidity. “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity” is more than just a seasonal cliché. Humidity makes things feel warmer. You can counter this effect doing laundry, taking showers and running your dishwasher early in the morning.

8. Insulate your attic. Make sure your attic is properly insulated. Even better, have it equipped with a fan to blow hot air out of the attic. Taking even just a few of these steps can help you minimize the time you have to run your air conditioning, and save hundreds of dollars over the average summer.