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Summer is coming. As appealing as 90 degrees may have sounded when you were shoveling out your driveway in mid-January, chances are excellent that you won’t enjoy the sensation of baking like a roasting potato, particularly in your own house, come mid-July. Your spouse might be nagging you to turn the AC to 66, but you know better. After all, you probably remember the jaw-dropping AC bill you got last summer.

According to Energy Star, households spend more than $2,200 a year on energy bills. The good news is that there are plenty of ways that you can stay cool without cranking your AC to the max.

Turn It Off Before You Go-Go
When it’s pushing 90 degrees outside, it’s tempting to want to crank your AC unit. A good way to keep cool while avoiding swollen utility bills is to keep your house warmer during the day and colder at night. Because heating and air conditioning amount to around 40 percent of your monthly utility bill, setting your thermostat to a neutral 75 degrees when you leave in the morning and then turning it down when you get home can help shave off hundreds in utilities.

Here’s a neat little tool to check when and how you should set your thermostat.

Give Your AC Some TLC
Like the engine of a car, your AC unit is only as good as the filter that helps it run. An old, tattered filter means your AC unit has to work more, which, you guessed it, means you’re going to pay more. There are two basic filter types: disposable filters, which should be changed every 1 or 2 months, and permanent filters, which require regular cleaning. Consistently changing your air filters can save up to 15 percent on utility costs.

Use Your Green Thumb
A great way to cool your house while also improving the appearance of your yard is to plant trees or shrubs in such a way that your air conditioner is shaded. This could help you boost the efficiency of your cooling unit by 10 to 15 percent. Really! If you’re feeling really ambitious, get several tall, leafy trees and plant them around the exterior of your home. They’ll help block the sun and give you more privacy, too.

Put Your Windows to Work for You
Especially on your east and west-facing windows, invest in solar screens. They can block out up to 70 percent of the sun’s rays before they shine into your home. You can also place window films over the glass of your windows, but the downside is that you can never open them.

This is just a tiny sampling of the countless ways you can get cool without cranking your AC. If your cantankerous spouse gives you a hard time about not resorting to a Freon-based solution, we have one more idea that’s sure to cool both of you down a few degrees. All you need are six balloons, a ready supply of water and an appropriate place to get into a spirited fight.

 

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