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""It can be tough to enjoy those sultry summer days when your energy bills are rising as fast as the temperatures.

Thankfully, a few simple changes can help keep your home cool without blowing your budget.

Inside Your Home

We’re creatures of habit, but there are small things you can do that can make a big difference in your cooling bills. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) offers no-cost and low-cost tips to cool your home and save money.

  • Windows — Close the shades during the day, especially on south- or west-facing windows, and open your windows at night to let in cool air. Consider applying reflective coating to windows to keep out the sun’s heat.
  • Lights — Switch lights off when you don’t need them. Swap incandescent lightbulbs for Energy Star-certified options, which not only use less energy but also generate about 70 percent less heat.
  • Air Conditioners — Get a properly sized room air conditioner to cool the area efficiently and conserve energy. Turn off air conditioners when you’re out. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it up to turn on an hour before you get home. Try to keep your thermostat at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or the highest temperature you’re comfortable with, to save on energy costs. Maintain your air conditioner by checking the filter each month, cleaning or replacing it if it looks dirty. Buy a new filter every three months regardless of its condition, and get your system tuned up once a year to improve its efficiency.
  • Ceiling Fans — Use ceiling fans to draw out heat and lower cooling costs. According to Energy Star, you can cut your air conditioning costs by up to 14 percent by raising your thermostat only two degrees and using your ceiling fan. Keep in mind that fans cool people, not rooms, so make sure to turn them off when you leave.
  • Refrigerator — Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils so air circulates freely and the motor doesn’t work too hard and use more electricity. If you’re buying a new model, look for Energy Star-certified refrigerators, which can use less energy than a 60-watt lightbulb.
  • Appliances — Avoid using large appliances like washers, dryers, and dishwashers during the afternoon and early evening, when electricity demand is usually highest. Choose the air-dry feature on dishwashers to cut electricity costs. Heat small portions of food in microwaves rather than ovens, and use a range hood when cooking to vent heat outside. If you’re looking for new appliances, buy ones that are Energy Star-certified.

Outside Your Home

Much of the heat in your home is absorbed from the sunlight outdoors. Keep these tips in mind when making changes to the outside of your home:

  • Walls — Paint the outside of your home a light color to absorb less heat and extend the life of your siding. If there are air leaks around ducts and vents that let drafts into your home, install insulation and weather-stripping to seal them.
  • Roofs — Your roof lets in about a third of the unwanted heat in your home, so apply a reflective coating or radiant barrier to keep things cool. You can find radiant barriers and two standard types of coating in hardware stores. You can install them yourself or hire a contractor, depending on the condition of your roof.
  • Landscaping — Plant trees, vines, and shrubbery in strategic locations outside your home to keep sunlight from overheating it. By landscaping for energy efficiency, you could lower your air conditioning costs between 15 and 50 percent this summer.

Don’t sweat it when the dog days of summer hit. With these simple changes, you can cool off at home without cranking up the air conditioner, and save a few pennies, too! And don’t forget, check out our blog on MassSave rebates and incentives on cooling measures for your home.

How do you stay cool at home when it’s hazy, hot, and humid? Tell us! Comment below or tweet @MassGov.

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