Cate O'Malley is keeping her house extra cool this summer, as sweltering temperatures sweep the nation. She runs all four of her air conditioners during the day, effectively doubling her energy bill to more than $100 in the past month. "I have two small children and work primarily from home, so we need to stay cool," says O'Malley, who manages a food and lifestyle blog, Sweetnicks.com.
For Cate and everyone else struggling to save money while beating the heat, consider these simple energy-reducing tricks around your house:
• Raise Your Thermostat. If you have central air, begin by automatically setting your thermostat to a higher temperature, say 78 or 80 degrees, during times when you're not at home. A programmable thermostat could save you as much as $180 a year, according to Energy Star.
• Utilize Ceiling Fans. While you're at home, put your ceiling fans to work — even with your air conditioner running. It may sound counterintuitive to do so, but ceiling fans can create a cooling effect that leaves you dry and comfortable, enough so you can raise the temperature on your air conditioner. A 2-degree increase can lower cooling costs by up to 14%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
• Keep the Air Conditioner in the Shade. It's not always possible, but if you can install your air conditioner in a window that's facing shade, instead of sunlight, you'll lower the AC's workload.
• Time the Chores. Leave some household tasks — like running the dishwasher or washing machine — for either the early morning or late evening since some utility companies charge a premium during peak hours of the day.
• Skip the Stove. Your stove is another giant source of heat. Consider warming up small-sized portions in the microwave. You could save as much as 80 percent in cooking energy, according to Energy Star. Your outdoor grill is another great alternative for cooking, not only because it conserves energy — it also keeps the heat outside!