BOSTON (CBS) – If you have AC, and many folks do, I found some suggestions for saving money and keeping cool this summer.

Set the temperature at 78 degrees or higher when the house is occupied and at 85 degrees when no one’s home. You’ll save 1-2% on cooling costs for each degree you can raise your thermostat.  My husband prefers it to be a bit cooler than 78 so we compromise at 76.

And if the air filter hasn’t been cleaned in over 30 days, then it is time to do so. Just put a note on your calendar.

Keep the curtains or shades closed on any south or west-facing windows during the day which can save 2-4% on cooling costs. Follow the sun around and keep it out.

Leave the windows open on cool nights and turn off the AC. You will be in essence capturing the cool air and won’t need to turn on the AC until the next afternoon.

If available, turn on ceiling and table fans. A fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees and still feel cool.  For ceiling fans, make sure they are turning in a counterclockwise direction. You should feel a cool breeze standing directly under the fan.

And only use the fan while you’re in the room for they cool people in the room not the air. I did not know that.

For unused rooms, shut the door and close any air supply vents inside them which can save up to 3% on cooling costs.

Cook with the microwave, your toaster oven or outdoor grill instead of the regular oven. Keeps the kitchen cooler and saves on cooking costs.

Incandescent lights give off heat. Install LEDs or compact fluorescent lights in high-use fixtures which can save about 70% on your lighting cost per fixture.  Turn off any lights that aren’t being used and dim those that are, if possible.

For long term savings, plant some shade trees on the south and west side of your home to keep it cool during the summer and warm in the winter. Also consider shading the actual AC units with shrubs or fencing. This too will help.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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