You don't need to make a dramatic change to see a bit of savings on your cooling costs. Just make subtle shifts in your everyday routine:
- Stay away from home longer. If you already raise your thermostat while you're gone at work, just extending that "away" period will show you the money. Make plans to take the long walk to your office, or stop by a friend's place on the way home.
- Lower your blinds earlier. Right now, you probably drop your window shades right before bed. But with the shades drawn, a well-insulated house or apartment will only raise a measly one degree per hour in 85 degree weather, far lower than the 20 percent of summer heat that enters your home through sunny, west-facing windows.
- Cook dinner and clean laundry and dishes at night. Any appliance that generates heat will make your air conditioner work even harder to cool your home. (This Old House estimates that baking cookies can raise the room temperature by 10 degrees, raising cooling costs by up to 5 percent.) Instead, run hot appliances (like ovens, clothes dryers and dishwashers) at night, when the temperature is naturally a bit cooler.