5 ways to save energy at home and stay cool in the heat

Here are five verified ways to help you save energy and beat the heat this summer.

Tuesday, June 21 marked the summer solstice – the longest day of the year and the official start of the season.

Many VERIFY readers have reached out with questions about how to save money on their energy bills and beat the heat during the summer months.

Here are five verified ways to help you stay calm and save energy at home.


Yes, closing your blinds and blinds keeps your home cooler and conserves energy.

According to the US Department of Energy, 76% of sunlight that hits a standard double-pane window is converted into heat. The agency recommends moving blackout blinds up or closing them completely to reduce the amount of heat coming into your home.

Lowe’s Home Improvement Store says closing the blinds or blackout blinds that face south and west during the day, and opting for white window treatments will help dissipate more heat.

Related: Yes, there are free ways to lower your energy bill

2. Make sure your ceiling fan rotates counterclockwise

The US Department of Energy (DOE) says that circulating fans, including ceiling fans, create a wind-cooling effect that helps people feel cooler, even though fans do not lower room temperature.

But for optimal efficiency, your fan needs to spin counterclockwise in the summer because the blades will push cold air down a column, according to Home Depot and Energy Star, the federal government’s energy efficiency program.

A ceiling fan that rotates in the right direction can also save money, because people can raise the thermostat by about 4 degrees without feeling too warm, thanks to the cooling effect of the fan.

To change the direction of the ceiling fan, check for a small switch under the blades and click it to make the fan rotate counterclockwise. Also, remember to turn off the fan when you leave the room to save energy.

Related: Yes, the ceiling fan must rotate counterclockwise if you want to feel cool

3. Know when to leave the air conditioner on or off when you are gone

When temperatures rise in the summer, turning on the air conditioner can increase your electric bill.

Leaving the air conditioner on if you’re just leaving for the day is more energy efficient, but you can raise it a few notches higher than if you were at home, says Logan Korechka, a spokesman for Duke Energy in North Carolina.

This is because it actually takes more energy to start the air conditioner and cool your home than it does to keep it warmer than usual when you’re away.

However, if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, you’ll save the most energy and money if you turn off the air conditioning unit, Korechka said.

Related: Yes, it’s cheaper to leave your air conditioner on all day than to turn it off when you’re gone

4. Set the thermostat to the appropriate temperature

The Department of Energy and the energy provider recommends setting the thermostat in your home to 78 degrees to save the most money.

On average, 10% cheaper to run the AC at 78 degrees for 8 hours a day than to run it at 74 degrees for the same amount of time.

HVAC professionals also recommend following the 20-degree rule. For example, if the temperature outside is 95 degrees, you should set the thermostat to 75 degrees. If the temperature is 100 degrees, set the thermostat to 80. This will prevent overstressing the air conditioning unit.

5. Put aluminum foil on the windows in case of emergency

FEMA said in a 2019 blog post that window reflectors, including aluminum foil-coated cardboard, are one way people can combat extreme heat in an emergency.

Mahabir Bhandari, PhD, a member of the Buildings and Urban Systems Research Group of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, told VERIFY that he thinks it would be more effective to cover windows from the outside rather than the inside of the house.

Aluminum foil may transfer some heat through the window as it heats up, but that’s where the cardboard comes into play. It will act as insulation and heat absorbent aluminum foil, which means that the window and the room behind it will not heat up.

Related: Yes, aluminum foil can be used over windows to help keep homes cool

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