Tip 3: Practice "Texas Cool"

"Texas cool" is a morning and evening routine that takes advantage of cool outdoor temperatures at night and keeps the heat at bay as much as possible during daylight hours. It's very simple to do: At night when the temperature drops, open windows and bring in cool air with window fans or a whole-house fan. As soon as the sun comes up or the air starts to heat up, shut the windows and shades and keep doors closed.

Cost: $0 (plus minimal fan use)
Benefit: 20 to 50 percent off your cooling bill

Tip 4: Use Sunblockers

As much as 20 percent of summer heat enters your home as sunlight shining through windows. To cut "solar gain," add curtains or blinds to rooms that get direct sun and draw them in daylight hours. With the shades drawn, a well-insulated house will gain only 1 degree per hour when outdoor temperatures are above 85 degrees.

Pay special attention to west-facing rooms late in the day. Shades and blinds to consider include roller shades (the least expensive option), venetian-type micro-blinds, reflective curtains and insulated curtains (the most expensive, at $100 per window). Two exterior options are to install awnings or plant shade trees.

Cost: $8 to $100 per window
Benefit: Up to 20% of your cooling bill
Ask TOH users about Cooling

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