The hottest season of the year is almost upon us and for homeowners, it’s a time we all dread. Not only are our homes less comfortable and harder to cool, but it also means a significantly higher energy bill as a result.

For those with a fixed income or tight budget, it can be a hard pill to swallow.

Are you worried about the upcoming summer season and the high electric bills that will come with it? We’ve got you covered.

Try these 7 tips to lower your energy use (and keep your home cooler, to boot!)

  1. Consider a smart thermostat.

Smart thermostats go beyond what the traditional programmable thermostat can do. Not only can they help you set temperature schedules based on when you’ll be in or out of the home, but they also have sensors that can detect the temperature in every room in the house. Many also have Wi-Fi and AI-assistant capabilities (like Alexa), as well as mobile apps that let you control your home’s climate from wherever you might be located.

Some of the most popular options are the Nest and the Ecobee. Though both say they can save you anywhere from 10 to 23 percent on your energy bills, many also qualify you for a rebate from your gas or electric company.

  1. Install ceiling fans where there aren’t any.

If you don’t have ceiling fans in every room, consider changing that. According to Energy.gov, ceiling fans allow you to raise your thermostat setting a full 4 degrees with zero reduction in comfort. They’re typically pretty affordable and easy to install, too.

Once you do have fans installed, make sure to leave the doors to your individual rooms open. This will allow the cool air to travel throughout the house, saving you even more cash in the long run.

  1. Get your HVAC system checked.

Your HVAC unit should be serviced regularly in order to remain in top working condition. Have a qualified technician out to evaluate your system long before the hot season rolls in. That will give you time to schedule any sort of repairs or tune-ups you need before your HVAC will be in high demand.

  1. Don’t heat your home in other ways.

Still using incandescent light bulbs? Those outdated bulbs turn 90 percent of the energy they use into heat, meaning the more of these bulbs you have, the hotter your house will be. Wherever possible, switch out your incandescent bulbs for LED ones. You’ll use less energy and have a cooler home on the whole.

You should also steer clear of the kitchen as much as possible in the hot summer months. Turning on the oven, cooking over a hot stovetop or firing up that griddle can all raise the temperature of your home, making it less comfortable and requiring more energy to cool. Try sticking to cold food preparation indoors, and use your barbecue grill outside for any cooking or broiling needs.

  1. Close your blinds and install curtains and shades.

According to the Department of Energy, nearly a third of your home’s heating energy is lost through your windows. Your best option to keep out heat is an insulated cellular shade on each window, which can reduce heat loss by a whopping 40 percent. Roman shades and blinds are also good options, as long as they’re closed and not directing light inward toward the home (or at a white, reflective wall).

Curtains and drapes can also help. These should cover the entire window and be a medium color with a white-plastic backing to have the biggest impact.

  1. Consider some new landscaping.

Carefully placed landscaping can do wonders for your home’s temperature and your energy bills. Consider planting trees, shrubs, or even just vines in areas where sun tends to stream through your windows or directly onto your home. Just make sure the trees aren’t placed too close to the structure, or they could pose a safety hazard in a storm or high winds.

  1.  Skip the hot water.

Whenever possible, avoid using hot water in your home. Whether you’re doing your laundry, cleaning the dishes or taking a steamy shower, hot water uses up significantly more energy than cold water (and warm water, too). Consider switching your wash cycles to cold or warm, and avoid the hot drying cycle on your dishwasher. If you can switch to warm or even cold showers, that will help as well. The less hot water you can use this season, the more it will offset those rising HVAC costs.

The Bottom Line

Homeowners may not be able to avoid the hot summer sun, but we can take steps to keep our homes cool without breaking the bank. Want help making changes at your home to get ready for summer? Contact Embrace Home Loans about a cash-out refinance today.