Cook outdoors on a clean-burning gas grill to keep the inside of your home cool.
Photo Credit: SurpassPro –

Whether you’re an environmental steward or a smart consumer, you may be dreaming up ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home during the warmer months.

Here is a check-list of items that can help you bring down your energy costs, and lower your homes carbon footprint all season long:

Draw blinds: Avoid the greenhouse effect in your house by drawing blinds during the sunniest hours of the day.

Plant trees: Strategically plant trees and shrubs in your yard. You’ll provide much needed shade inside your home. Also, an air conditioning unit that is shaded will use less energy.

Dress properly: In the office, you may need to go for a buttoned-down look no matter the season, but at home, dressing for the weather will help you stay cool, so you won’t need to rely as much on air conditioning.

Cook smart: The warmer months are a great time to avoid cooking. Gazpacho, salad and other dishes served cold can help you keep your energy costs down. But, of course, you’ll sometimes still want to prepare your favorite hot meals. When cooking, use a natural gas stove and oven for optimum energy efficiency. Better yet, grill outside to eliminate any heat you would generate from using your stove or oven. A natural gas grill is clean-burning, and has no particulate emissions.

Open windows: Take advantage of those days with a nice breeze to turn off the air conditioner completely and circulate some fresh air in your home.

Give your AC an agenda: Don’t keep an empty house cool all day for no one to enjoy. A programmable thermostat can help you create an air conditioning schedule that matches your schedule.

Do low carbon laundry: This time of year inevitably means more heavy-duty laundry. To handle the extra loads, consider using a natural gas water heater, which emits up to half the carbon emissions of an electric water heater. And, on average, you can do two loads of clothes in a natural gas dryer for the same amount it would cost you to dry one load in an electric dryer.

Seal drafts: You may think of drafts as a winter problem, but leaks in your walls, doors and windows can send all that cool air right out of the house. Sealing these drafts will allow you to turn up your thermostat for immediate cost-savings.

You don’t need to eat the expense of an inefficient home this season. A few simple tweaks to your lifestyle will keep your bills down and be great for the planet, too. : :