How To Control Your Summer Cooling Costs

Now that Memorial Day has passed, the unofficial start of summer is here. With that being said, you will probably see an increase in your electricity bill over the next several months due to increasing temperatures. However, I am here today to help you save money on electricity costs this summer. I’m sure most of…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: March 4, 2024

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How To Save Money On Electricity Costs (1)Now that Memorial Day has passed, the unofficial start of summer is here. With that being said, you will probably see an increase in your electricity bill over the next several months due to increasing temperatures.

However, I am here today to help you save money on electricity costs this summer. I’m sure most of you would rather use that money for something else anyways!

While some of the tips below may seem obvious to some of you, I know plenty of others who spend hundreds of dollars a month on cooling costs and waste tons of electricity that they don’t need to be wasting.

As most of you know, we moved to Fruita, Colorado a little over three months ago. The weather here isn’t cold like most people think when they think of Colorado and this is because Fruita is in the high desert. We’ve had plenty of warm, sunny and beautiful days. Due to this, we’ve been mindful of the electricity we are using since we’ve already had some pretty hot days.

Even though the temperature here is somewhat similar to the temperatures we often experienced in St. Louis, Missouri, we’ve already noticed a big difference in our monthly electric bills.

Our electric bills in St. Louis in the spring were usually around $100 a month, whereas here they have been around half that. While some of the difference is due to the low humidity here in Colorado so the weather here actually feels great, a lot of the savings is due to us trying different things to save more money on our electric bill.

There are many positives of doing this. Not only do we save money by controlling our summer cooling costs, but we are also using less electricity. Lately, we have been more mindful of the amount of electricity, water, and gas that we use more than ever, as we are trying to do our part for the environment.

Below are my tips on how you can save money on electricity costs:

 

1. Keep your air conditioner off as long as possible.

We’ve only turned on our air conditioner once or twice in our new house. Yes, I understand that it’s still just the end of May, but we are determined to keep our windows open as long as we can.

Truth is, I LOVE having the windows open. No matter how hot it gets, I love having a nice, fresh breeze come into the house. It also saves a ton of money and electricity!

This summer, I challenge you to keep your air conditioner off as long as you can. I don’t have any prizes to give out, but knowing that you managed to save money and save electricity should be good enough. 🙂

Related: Energy Ogre Review – How To Save $800+ A Year On Your Electricity Bill

 

2. Use a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat is something you should invest in if you haven’t yet. It’s relatively cheap and you will most likely make your money back within a year, or maybe even just a few months.

With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature at exactly what you want it to be for different times throughout the day. This way you don’t have to constantly change it as it will automatically change on a set schedule.

This way, when you leave for work, your AC will automatically turn up so that you don’t waste electricity or money cooling a house that no one is in. You can also program it for while you are sleeping, for the weekend, and so on.

I did a simple online search and I was able to find plenty of programmable thermostats for less than $50. Well worth the small investment.

 

3. Use fans to save money on electricity costs.

If you have ceiling fans, portable fans, etc., then you should use them. It can make the room you are in feel much cooler. This will then allow you to set your AC at a couple of degrees higher so that you can save more money.

When you are not in the room though, you should always turn off the fan though as it’s just a waste of electricity if no one is in the room.

 

4. Set your thermostat at a higher temperature.

I couldn’t find information on what the average person sets their thermostat at, but I did recently come across a Facebook status where over 100 people chimed in about what temperature their AC is set at during the summer. Many of the commenters stated that their AC is set below 72 degrees. Some stated that they keep their home at a cool 67 degrees.

To save money, I recommend setting your thermostat at 76 to 78 degrees when you are home, and then when you are going to sleep or if no one is home then you may want to raise it a few degrees.

Doing this may save you around 10% or more on your next electric bill.

 

5. Limit the amount of sunlight that comes into your home.

The more sunlight that comes in, the hotter your home is going to be. If you don’t want it to be dark in the room, then close all of the blinds and curtains everywhere else and open up the blinds in just the room you are in.

It’s really that easy.

 

6. Spend more time in your basement.

Basements are usually considerably cooler than the rest of a home. If you have a basement, using it may mean that you can keep the rest of your home warmer. This can be a great way to save money on electricity.

I know someone who even moves their bedroom into the basement each summer so that they can enjoy a cooler house on a lower budget. It’s a great idea!

 

7. Cook and do chores at night time.

If you are able to, you might want to try completing certain chores at night time when the temperature has dropped a little bit.

This can include turning on the dryer, cooking hot meals and so on. During the day, you could always cook other meals that don’t need the oven. The dryer and stove can really heat up a home and waste the electricity you are spending to cool your home down.

 

8. Take care of your air conditioning system.

In order to save money, you may have to spend money as well.

You should always take care of your air conditioning system, as routine maintenance can help it run better and also help the system last longer. This means replacing the filter and completing maintenance on the actual system on an annual basis, clearing leaves off the outside of the system, and so on.

How much money do you typically spend on cooling costs in the summer months? What do you do to save money on electricity costs?

 


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Heather

    It’s like a personal challenge of mine to see how long I can go before I turn the heat or AC on! 🙂

  2. It sounds odd, but I spend more time in our basement nowadays that I brought my laptop in there. These are really good tips. Don’t forget to enjoy!

    1. The basement always feels so much better in the summer time!

  3. Vanessa D.

    In Ontario, typically the Time Of Use stuff somehow makes it cheaper to cool your house in the summer with electric a/c than heat it in the winter with a gas furnace. Still when it comes to cooling we’ve got a lot of shade and I do use my programmable thermostat. I don’t mind a warmer house during the day, but I do like it a bit cooler for sleeping. So 75-76 during the day, 74 overnight. I feel it’s justified because the overnight electricity is cheaper and because the a/c runs more efficiently at night.

  4. All good tips but I couldn’t sleep if I kept my thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. I sleep at 67 and love it. But I look to cut costs other ways and use all the ideas you’ve listed. I also found this great film you put on your windows that blocks 80% of the suns rays and heat. Makes a huge difference in keeping the house cool. You can find it at any home improvement store.

    1. When we lived in St. Louis, we definitely could not sleep at 78 or higher because of the humidity. Now that we are in Colorado, we have no problem with the 70s as there’s no humidity and it feels wonderful!

  5. We actually have our temp at the lowest setting during the overnight time. It has to run occasionally or it gets stuffy in the house, so we keep it between 75-77 during the day and 73-74 overnight, which seems to be a good mix. We’ve only run it a couple of times so far, generally just to cool the house off before bed.

    1. Luckily, we live in a low humidity place now so it no longer gets stuffy if we just leave even just one window cracked. I love it!

  6. Amy @ DebtGal

    Our house has only one heating/cooling zone, which makes it challenging. We’re downstairs most of the day, and downstairs is cooler, which is great. But nights are tricky, since our bedrooms are upstairs, where it’s hotter. We use fans, but it can still get uncomfortable without the AC. I’m thinking that we should look into ceiling fans for our bedrooms, which might cool them more efficiently than regular fans…

    1. Yes, ceiling fans are great! Definitely look into them.

  7. Kathy

    We prefer to have the windows open also, but I don’t do well in heat….it’s that menopause thing….so we’ve already had the A/C on some this spring. We love having the windows open while we sleep but night forecasts for rain puts a halt on that. Otherwise we already do most of this things you mention. Beyond that, we just suck it up and pay. And give thanks to the air conditioning gods for the person who invented it!

    1. Haha yes Kathy – the air conditioning gods!

  8. Great ideas. I’m already realizing that I need to cut down on my AC before I get carried away. We have a few fans that we like to use as well and also, keeping cold snacks like popsicles, italian ice, etc. around this summer is a must.

  9. Another way I cut down on heating up my house it to do more crockpot meals and grilling on the BBQ. This cuts down on the heat being put out by making meals. I also eat more cold meals like sandwiches and salads in the summer too.

  10. Rachel

    Along the lines of keeping the house dark, there are curtains that are energy efficient type ones, they are designed to keep the heat out of the room. There are a couple different levels. They help immensely, I have put my hand between the curtain and window a couple time and it’s amazing how much heat is trapped. These curtains are also blackout curtains which help since my husband doesn’t work day shift.
    We only have a window a/c in our master bedroom, because it’s also where the most son goes we usually turn it on about 82 in the evening and then turn it off when my husband gets up. Ironically our summer cooling costs are cheaper than winter heating because of baseboard heat.
    We also take cooler showers during the summer right before bed to help drop our body temperature as well as not use as much electricity.
    Another way I try to keep the house cooler, is I do more batch cooking and try to only use the oven 1-2 nights and bake as much as possible. So sometimes the oven and stove are only used about 5 hours a week, then we rely on the microwave.
    Being in a different part of Colorado, with all the rain we have had we have only needed fans at night at this point. Hopefully the cooler weather will hold out until the end of May.

    1. All great ideas Rachel! Thank you!

  11. Allison @ Frugal on the Prairie

    We live in Houston where it is blazing hot! Our first summer here was downright miserable. But now we run the dishwasher and dryer at night and keep the blinds and curtains down from April to September. It’s a little dark in here but it’s worth the lower bill!

  12. Electricity has always been a difficult bill to manage for me here in Texas. However, I didn’t realize how much little things can add up until recently. We moved from a larger, older home with tons of windows and skylights to a smaller energy-star home in which I keep the blinds closed when I’m not looking at the view. Old house highest summer electric bill: over $400. New house summer electric bill: just over $50. You could have knocked me over with a feather!

    1. Wow awesome! That’s a HUGE difference.

  13. I am lucky – this is one of the great perks of apartment living – the cost of heating / cooling is low. I do keep my air low / off while I’m at work, but otherwise, it’s actually very cheap even with it on.

  14. I follow a lot of those tips that you listed. I typically keep my AC set for 72 degrees. I also use my fan a lot at night. By doing those things my light bill averaged $45 from June – September.

  15. Elvie

    These are great tips, Michelle! We have had all sorts of weather here in the Northeast from frost warnings the other night to high 80’s and thunderstorms today! I definitely try to keep the AC off until we absolutely need it. I keep my Thermal curtains (they’re pretty and tie back when we want), so they keep the sun away. I also do lots of smoothies for breakfast/brunch and suppers that don’t require a lot of heavy cooking. Thanks for all your tips!

  16. Meghan

    I don’t know who provides electricity there but Colorado also has super cheap electricity. I moved to Texas for work and was surprised that I 1. had to shop for electricity and compare prices and 2. had to pay double. I’m in Colorado for a couple of weeks and when I left, I completely turned off the air, closed the blinds, and unplugged everything (but forgot to unplug the cable box – grr). I’m hoping my bill is lower and will continue those efforts when I get back! When I was in Colorado, I paid $33 one month for gas and electric combined and $150 during the winter for a house!

    1. Yes, the bills here are definitely cheaper here, I’ve noticed that as well! It’s nice 🙂

  17. I’m lucky in the sense that I HATE aircon. I think it’s so bad for your health and skin that I’ll rarely use it, unless I’m dying. In Guatemala, my apartment doesn’t have any heating or cooling. Thankfully the temperatures have been mild and comfortable for the four months I’ve been there. It’s really nice not paying for heating or cooling!

    1. Wow, I never really thought about how it could possibly be bad for you!

  18. We definitely use our “basement” a ton in the summer. Our house is a raised ranch so the living room is the basement – nice and cool. The downside is that it gets really cold down there in the winter.

    One other tip – pay attention to the weather forecast. If it is going to cool down, we make sure to turn off the air beforehand.

    1. Yes, another great tip! Thanks!

  19. We have 4 people home (between the main and guest houses) all day every day. So our utilities are always higher than most. Every month, our electric company likes to send us data as to how we’re one of the higher usage households in the area.

    I’m trying to imagine 72 degrees in the summer. Yikes. We keep the house at 76 in the winter (lower than that can be a problem for my husband’s joints) and right now we have it at 79 in the house. Ceiling fans are a godsend. Fans in general are integral, like you said.

    Also, since we’re the only ones in the main house, I just strip down to the essentials. If it helps keep our elecricity down, I’m up for trying it!

    1. Yes, I definitely know what you mean. While there’s just the two of us in our home, we are home all the time and it definitely leads to a higher electric bill.

  20. Love using our crockpot too!

  21. I never had an air conditioner growing up so I really hate them. I just open the window and run a fan. This used to be pretty common in CO.

    1. I love just having a window open! Not possible in St. Louis but I definitely think it’s possible here in many parts of Colorado.

  22. Dennis Seymour

    Over here in the Philippines, the summer has been going on for months and it has gotten so much warmer now. It’s hard not to turn on the air con. The humidity is the biggest problem. I had to plan the time I turn the air con system on and utilize fans properly so the air can flow nicely around the house LOL.

    Love the tip on doing it at night, I’ll have to experiment on that 🙂

    1. Yes, high humidity is horrible!

  23. Nate at LendEDU

    Interesting tips. I’m not sure I could survive 76-78 degrees, but to save 10% on my electric bill I should probably give it a shot!

  24. I find that in Summer with the nice hot days, I don’t use the dryer at all, I hang the washing out on the clothes line and it is dry in no time at all. I really only use the dryer on rainy days in Winter, as the dryer does use a lot of power.

    It amazes me how many people use a dryer on a nice warm clear day.

  25. Wilfredo Hernandez

    My wife and I have also tried your first tip:”Keep your air conditioner off as long as possible.” We have only turned it on twice this summer and we have been able to keep our energy bill pretty low these past few months. We will have to try your tip to shut the blinds more often to keep some of the heat out. Thanks for the tips!

  26. Deborah

    i lived in Grand Jct. CO for 15 years – we only had swamp coolers back then. I live in Henderson NV and the A/C doesn’t get turned on until it hits 90 inside, we set it at 80/82 daytime and 78/76 at night. If you have an A/C unit be sure to change the filters every 30 days or as needed to make the unit work less.

  27. right about now, I know the summer electricity bill will we hear is about to skyrocket because I keep the air conditioning on all day. Fortunately, the AC is next to the computer, so I’m nice and cool while creating lots and lots of content for the site. I did recently become a humble new owner of a portable battery powered fan. I’m learning now to keep it recharged often so I can take it with me almost everywhere go. 🙂