5 Ways to Save Money On Summer Cooling Costs

summer cooling costsSummer weather can be a welcome relief from the cool (and sometimes freezing) temperatures that can accompany winter and sometimes spring. Here in the Chicago area, after a brutal winter, this warm weather feels like paradise!

Of course, as great as this or many other things in life are, it’s hard to get something for nothing. As I learned years ago from my father, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of the time, there is something we give in order to receive.

In the case of this warm and sometimes humid summer weather, this means we have to pay for cooling down. Yes, air conditioning is not free. Wouldn’t it be great if it was? We have to pay for energy, so this becomes like many other purchases in that it doesn’t hurt to look for a few small, relatively painless ways to save a little bit of money.

I’ve written before about ways to save on energy costs, with tips that cut across seasons.  Specific to warm weather months, here are 5 ways to save money on air conditioning costs:

Use a Programmable Thermostat

When you’re home, of course you want to be comfortable. I’m not into the idea of being uncomfortable just to save a small amount of money. But if you’re not home, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like the carpet or furniture will be suffering if the temperature is a bit warm!

So, for example, you can have the temperature 5 degrees higher when you leave for work. When you come back, it can be cooled down pretty quickly. This concept could apply even more so to when you’re traveling. No need to cool a house that nobody is in!

Close Shades or Curtains

By keeping the windows uncovered, and sunlight going through them, you’re heating up the home a bit. Instead, keep things shuttered in rooms that you don’t need the light at that point in time. This lets your air conditioner work as hard as it needs to, instead of doing some extra work to keep things comfortable.

Replace or Clean AC Filters

Keeping filters clean is a good habit to get into. Depending on how you’re set up, it could entail cleaning a filter or replacing periodically. I’ve talked to people who rarely change a filter, as in once a year, which find crazy. Do it much more often, not only for living well but also to save on energy costs.

Minimize Oven Use

Okay, I know that it’s tough to avoid using the oven. And I’m not advocating that you stop using it, obviously! But maybe there are times we can use it a bit less when preparing food. The oven actually heats up the home more than we think, which causes the AC to work harder. Which, in turn, costs us money. Occasional substitutes could be grilling, or maybe just preparing food once in a while that doesn’t require tons of oven time.

Open Those Windows!

At night, we aren’t worried about the sun. Additionally, that warm weather during the day will likely be cooled down at night. If the temps are comfortable enough, sometimes opening the windows to let a cool breeze in the home can work just fine.

My Questions for You

How do you cut down on cooling costs in the summer?

Do you have any other tips to share?


  1. says

    St. Louis has luckily had a cool summer, with temperatures anywhere from 70 to 90 degrees lately. It’s been wonderful on our wallet and we are thankful that we haven’t been stuck in a constant 100 degree battle!

    We did recently get our AC checked. It turns out that we had a lot of extra freon in it, and it was making our AC work harder. We are still not sure how that happened because we were lazy and haven’t gotten our AC checked in years!

    • Squirrelers says

      Glad you did check the AC, that’s a good thing to do. It’s always nice to be avoiding the 100 degree battle, especially when humidity is involved (which I know St Louis can have a lot of in the summer.

  2. Kathy says

    I live in central Illinois and have been thrilled by our thus far mild summer. We actually turned our A/C off on the 4th of July and I can’t remember when we did that last. We also keep drapes pulled shut against the sun and try to limit oven usage. However, since we are home all day, we don’t use a set-back thermostat. Ceiling fans do a lot to make the room feel cooler even though it doesn’t alter the temperature.

    • Squirrelers says

      July 4 here was quite cool too. Wearing short sleeves and shorts for the fireworks show here, it was a bit chilly! Luckily my family was smart enough to dress warmly :)

  3. says

    We get pretty hot here, mid to high 90’s, so during the day we set our thermostat to about 78 degrees. At night, we open the windows since it cools down into the 60’s. We use fans to blow in the cool, night air and that usually keeps us comfortable until around 11 am. We’re lucky that we only have to run the air for 2 – 3 months out of the year.

  4. says

    We have a programmable thermostat and that is a huge savings for sure. One other thing that we have done is make sure all of the doors are sealed. I went to Home Depot and bought some foam tape and sealed around the doors to keep the heat from coming in. It works and it is cheap too!

  5. says

    I go around the house around lunch time and start closing blinds. Our main bedroom windows, as well as our living room face west so we get the scorching afternoon heat in these rooms when the blinds are open. It really is amazing at how much heat you can keep out of a room simply by closing the blinds.

  6. says

    I try to use ceiling fan instead of air conditioner and opened the windows at night to cool off the room. I also keep my curtains half-shut during the day to let a little bit of sunlight in without heating the room too much.

  7. says

    In Phoenix the AC bill is one of the largest bills due to the hot summers. Of course we have sun screens on all the windows and I keep the blinds shut to keep out the direct sunlight. The programmable thermostat is a must and I bump the temp up a few degrees during the day when I’m not here.

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