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Programmable thermostatLow-cost strategies for staying cool and saving energy

Marsha Alexander, former Housing and Environmental Design Specialist, Jackson County, University of Missouri Extension


During times of extreme heat, it is very important to take care of yourself. Older people and the very young have a harder time coping with hot weather. Here are some tips for keeping cool and staying healthy.


  • Stay in the coolest place possible. If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a public building during the hottest part of the day.
  • It is important to drink plenty of water or other cold beverages. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages as they contribute to dehydration.
  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight natural fiber clothing that is also light in color.


The summertime heat and humidity has many homeowners and renters concerned with their utility bills and looking for ways to reduce usage while staying comfortable. These strategies will help cool down your home while saving energy dollars.


  • Attic temperatures can reach excessively high levels, putting an enormous load on air conditioning units. Make sure your attic is properly ventilated.
  • Properly maintain your air conditioner by getting recommended tune-ups. Keep debris away from the unit. Remember to replace dirty filters.
  • When using the air conditioner, set your thermostat as high as reasonably comfortable. Utilize a programmable thermostat to maintain the comfort level you desire when you are home and reduce energy usage when you are away. A programmable thermostat can save from 12 to 25 percent on your home energy costs.
  • Use ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate the air inside. Ceiling fans are recommended in rooms with ceilings at least eight feet high. According to the US Department of Energy, they work best when the blades are 7-9 feet above the floor and 10-12 inches below the ceiling. Setting the ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise will make it feel more comfortable during the hot weather. Remember to turn off ceiling fans when you leave a room because fans cool people, not rooms.
  • Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient CFLs (compact fluorescents). CFLs use 50 to 75 percent less electricity and do not emit the heat associated with incandescent bulbs. LEDs (light emitting diodes) are also a great option for energy savings. LEDs require significantly less electricity and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. When purchasing new bulbs, look for the Energy Star label to ensure the highest quality products. Turn off the lights when they are not being utilized.
  • Close window treatments including shades, blinds and draperies to reduce solar warming inside your home.
  • For cooking indoors, use a microwave oven. It uses less electricity and generates less heat than a regular oven.
  • To reduce increased humidity indoors and save energy:
    • Do the laundry, wash dishes and bathe late at night or early in the morning.
    • Air dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher’s drying cycle.
    • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
    • Take short showers instead of baths and use an energy efficient water-saver showerhead.


Utilizing these ideas can reduce your energy bill and help to maintain a more comfortable home for you and your family.


For more information on saving energy in your home, contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center or check out Energy Management on the MU Extension website.


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Last update: Monday, July 18, 2016