10 energy-saving tips for summer.


By Francesca Singer

Dreading your first summer energy bill? Fortunately, there are many ways you can conserve energy during the warmer months while staying cool and comfortable in your home. We've collected some of the best summer energy-saving tips so you don’t have to spend hours researching. Bonus: some of these energy-efficiency tips can actually help you save energy all year-round.

Keep reading to learn how you can save money and help our environment this summer.

Tip #1: Add window coverings.

window coverings to save energyDid you know that more than three-quarters of the sunlight that comes through standard double-pane windows, doors and other glass-paned surfaces becomes heat? This extra heat can become uncomfortable, forcing you to crank the AC — which, in turn, drives up your energy costs. Replacing windows is very expensive, but proper window coverings can help you conserve energy without breaking the bank.

According to the Department of Energy, some of the most popular types of coverings that block heat include:

  • Curtains or drapes. Consider installing drapes with white-plastic backings to lower your heat gains by 33% in the summer. Be sure to hang them as close to your windows as possible.
  • Insulated cellular shades. These can reduce heat through windows by 60%.
  • Louvered blinds, which are also effective at blocking out the summer heat.
  • Window films. Choose a temperature control film. And check the NFRC’s Window Film Energy Performance Label, which will include solar heat gain coefficient. The smaller this number, the better.
  • Window quilts. These have a similar R-value (the resistance to conductive heat flow) to insulated cellular shades and they’re more affordable. 

Related: How much does home window tinting cost?

Tip #2: Stop air leakage around your home.

caulking energy saving tip

One of the simplest and most cost-efficient ways to save energy in the summer is to seal air leaks in the home. HVAC systems have to work harder to counteract the air escaping from gaps in doors, windows, attics and basements. Grab some caulk and seal cracks or openings in areas like window frames. Objects that need to swing or open (think: window sashes and doors), can be sealed using weather stripping. For gaps around vents and other openings in attics and basements, you can try expanding foam.

Of course, you don't have to do it yourself. A local professional will be more than happy to help you get the job done right. 

Tip #3: Insulate your attic.

insulate to save energyOnce gaps in your attic are sealed, you can further reduce energy use by replacing the insulation. Replacing insulation can have significant benefits, but it’s a moderately difficult DIY job. You’ll need to determine which type of insulation you should use (loose fill or batt), and purchase the proper equipment (safety glasses, gloves, face mask, hard hat, etc.) 

If you'd rather leave it to the pros, Thumbtack can help you find a qualified insulation installer near you

Related: How much does insulation cost?

Tip #4: Cook outside more often this summer.

energy saving tip: cook outdoorsCooking outdoors is fun, festive and works in two ways to lower energy bills. Grilling outside instead of turning on the stove or oven in your kitchen reduces the amount of heat in the house. Plus, everyone loves eating al fresco on a nice summer day. 

Tip #5: Install a programmable thermostat.

install programmable thermostat to save moneyOne of the best energy saving tips is to get more efficient with your thermostat. A good rule of thumb to remember: you may end up saving around 10% a year on heating and cooling costs if you turn your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day.

A programmable thermostat can make sure your thermostat setting is even higher while you’re away. The air conditioner can start cooling the house before you get home, so you arrive at a cool space and enjoy lower energy costs. If installing a new thermostat has you stumped, find an installer near you to help.

Related: How much does it cost to replace a thermostat?

Tip #6: Help your AC unit run more efficiently.

summer AC serviceIf your AC system isn’t working properly, you could see a spike in your energy consumption this summer. Make sure it runs efficiently to help lower your energy bills. One way to do this is through regular maintenance and upgrades.

Staying up to date on AC maintenance involves cleaning or changing the air filters, cleaning around the outdoor condenser unit, clearing the drain line and more. Move appliances like lamps or TV sets away from room air conditioner thermostats to prevent longer runs times than necessary. 

If you have an old unit or system, it may be time to consider an upgrade. Choose a model that has a good seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). An AC unit with a qualified Energy Star or EnergyGuide label is typically about 15% more efficient than your standard model.

If you need help maintaining (or replacing) your cooling system, call an air conditioning pro near you

Related: How much does AC service cost?

Tip # 7: Limit your hot water usage.

lower hot water heater temperature to save energyWater heaters are the energy hogs of appliances, accounting for almost 20% of home energy costs. The average household spends an estimated $400-$600 per year on water heating. 

This summer, you’ll probably be more inclined to take a few cold showers here and there. That’s one smart way to lower your water heating bills. You might consider washing your clothes in cold water. Experts also recommend that you set your water heater at 120 degrees or lower to save energy. 

However, increasing efficiency is sometimes about finding ways to cut energy use altogether. Installing a heat pump, tankless water heater or solar water heater can save money and lower energy demands considerably.

Type of water heater

Energy savings


Can save households at least $100/year (depending on daily hot water usage)

Heat pump

Can save households nearly $300/year on electricity costs. It’s 2-3 times more efficient than storage water heaters.


Up to 50% more efficient than gas or electric water heaters

Source: Department of Energy

To take advantage of an alternative to a tanked water heater or upgrade your water heater to an appropriate size. Find a local water heater pro to help

Tip #8: Unplug energy "vampire" appliances.

vampire appliances waste energyDid you know that some appliances continue to use electricity even when they're turned off? Lamps, televisions, computers and phone chargers continue to draw a trickle of electricity, even when they aren’t charging a device. Simply unplug or use a strip that can be turned on and off.

When it comes to energy, every little bit counts — and these small draws may add up over time. 

Tip #9: Keep cool with fans.

energy savings tip: install fansGet the air moving in your house this summer. Good old fashioned ventilation is an effective way to cool off your home during the summer without consuming too much energy. With fans on, you can turn your thermostat up about 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The air circulation will help keep the room cooler while using far less energy than an AC unit.

Standalone, window or ceiling fans are all effective. And ceiling fans are easy to install in rooms with ceiling mounted lighting fixtures. If you need help, you can hire a fan installation pro near you.

Tip #10: Upgrade to LED lighting.

energy-efficient LED lightsIf you're still using compact fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, it might be time for an upgrade. LED light bulbs are by far the most efficient type of light bulbs available today, according to the Department of Energy. They use up to 75% less energy than conventional light bulbs and last about 25 times longer. This alone saves significant amounts of energy. 

Incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs also release a lot of their energy in the form of heat — 90 and 80 percent, respectively. Swapping these lights out for LEDs can lower energy demands and reduce the amount of heat in your home. 

If you're ready to upgrade your fixtures but need a hand with installation, contact a lighting specialist near you to help. They can help install new LED lights under your cabinets, in your hallways, along your walkways and more.

Related: How much does it cost to install light fixtures?

Hire a Thumbtack pro to make your home energy efficient.

While none of these tips require the skills of a rocket scientist, making energy-efficient upgrades can be challenging. If you want to make some changes but need technical assistance, hire a Thumbtack pro near you.


What should the thermostat be set at in summer?

The optimal summertime thermostat setting will depend on your preference. However, the Department of Energy recommends turning your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 hours during the day. While it can be tempting to crank the thermostat to below 70 degrees, consider dialing it back up to 78 degrees. 

Is it cheaper to leave the air conditioner on all day?

No. The cheapest way to operate an air conditioner is to run it only when you are home and to have it set higher while you’re away. Having a programmable thermostat makes it easier to program the temperature to drop before you get home so that the house is comfortable and cool when you arrive.

Is it cheaper to run fans or AC?

It is much cheaper to run fans than to run the AC. However, fans and ACs do very different things. An AC actually lowers the temperature of the air in your home, while a fan moves air, making you feel cooler.

Is it better to set the AC fan to “on” or “auto”?

If you’re more concerned about efficiency, consider using the auto setting for the fan. When the thermostat registers the desired temperature, the entire system will shut off until the next cycle begins. Just remember, the more frequently the fan has to start and stop may reduce its lifecycle.

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