A vast majority of the time, Florida is the most amazing, beautiful, wonderful place to call home. That is, until we open our summertime electric bils!  When the AC is running for 14 hours a day, utility costs can rapidly skyrocket.  But don't fret, read on for some useful tips on how to keep your home cool in the summer and give that air conditioner (and your wallet) a break!

We all get into the habit of doing certain things throughout our day, but the summertime is a good time to reorganize our routines.  Try to do laundry, ironing, or cooking in the evening hours, as all of these things generate heat that will raise the temperature inside your home. Instead of using the oven to cook your dinner, fire up the grill and keep the heat outside where it belongs! Utilize the sun and hang your clothes out to dry; you'll keep the house cooler and cut down on your electric bill by not running the dryer as often.  Also, hook up your corded household items to a power strip and turn it off when you leave for work.  All of these items use a small amount of power and generate a small amount of heat, even when turned off, so by cutting all power via a power strip, you won't have any energy drainage!  And if you haven't already made the switch from incandescent light bulbs, now is the time to do so.  These lights can lose up to 90% of their energy in the heat they emit, so update to the more modern CFL bulbs to reduce the amount of warmth leaking into the air while the lights are turned on.

Go around the house, both inside and out, and check to see if there are any gaps or openings where cool air can escape, or warm air can enter.  If you can see light coming in around the front door, you're costing yourself money!  Invest in some low cost weather stripping or caulk and seal all doors and windows properly.  Next, head up to the attic and check on your insulation.  It's not just for keeping heat in during the winter!  Most homes are equipped with R-11 or R-15 insulation.  Keep in mind that the higher the "R" value, the higher the insulation level.  It may cost you a little bit of money for this upgrade, but it will definitely pay for itself in the reduced energy costs both in summer and winter. 

We all know to update our wardrobe in the summer, and trade those thicker clothing items for soft, breathable cotton or linen; but this tip applies to your home furnishings as well!  Make sure you tuck away those flannel sheets for winter, and outfit your bed in more weather appropriate cotton.  If you have curtains or draperies, be sure that they block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day without transferring heat inside.  Light colored blackout curtains are best for energy efficiency! Or, ditch the drapes completely for the summertime and install a nice set of crisp white blinds.  These will reflect the heat back outside while still allowing light to come in.  

Finally, when all else fails, get creative!  Place a big bowl of ice in front of a standing fan to create your own mini AC, giving your actual air conditioner a break.  Use your blender to mix up some tasty smoothies or milkshakes. Put your tired feet into a nice cool footbath and place damp rags on your face and neck...the cooler your internal body temperature, the less likely you are to crank the AC up to compensate!