We have become so accustomed to air conditioning that we feel like we need to turn it on before it’s necessary. The truth of the matter is, we don’t need the air conditioner as soon as the warm weather starts approaching. Not only is it a waste of money, it’s a waste of energy and negatively impacts out environment. Some may argue that it’s worth the comfort that cool air brings, but there are other ways to keep cool—ways that will have you singing when you see that this month’s electric bill is lower than the last.

1. Cotton, cotton, cotton.

If you have a wool couch, take a few seconds to throw a light weight, light colored cotton sheet over it. The best option is white because it reflects heat instead of absorbing it. Cotton is breathable, so it’s the best fabric choice if you’re looking to cool down and relax. The same goes for your favorite fuzzy comforters, flannel sheets and pillowcases on your bed. There’s no doubt that these items are cozy, but replace them with cotton sheets and blankets for the time being. Cotton will provide you with good ventilation and air flow while you sleep. Also, don’t feel silly flipping your pillow every now and then; the cool side of the pillow truly does help.

Hint: Put your sheets in a plastic bag and let them sit in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

After your couch and bed is dressed in cotton, it’s time for you to dress in cotton. It’s best to dress light for bed, and cotton is the best fabric for that.

2. Keep your window shades down.

You may be surprised with how much heat can come from the windows of a home—especially large ones. Let the window shades do their job by keeping them down. You’ll feel a difference in the indoor temperature once you make this a habit.

3. Place an ice bowl by the fan.

Fill a shallow bowl with ice cubes and place it in front of a fan. The air blown from the fan will pick up the coolness of the ice, as well as the moisture on the surface, creating mist. After trying out this hack, you’ll probably never go back to using just the fan again. The ice is an easy addition and it’s super refreshing! Turn the fan on an angle for the best results.

4. Make your ceiling fan spin counter-clockwise.

It’s helpful to know that the summer setting for a ceiling fan is counter-clockwise at high speed. This direction allows for an immediate breeze, one that you’ll feel right away if you’re standing underneath it.

5. Keep windows open at night.

Temperatures typically drop during the night, so take advantage of that. Even just leaving them open a crack is enough for some refreshing air to flow through. For extra coolness, set up the ice bowl and fan across from the open window to create a cross-breeze.

6. Plant a tree or two.

This is more of a long-term option. If you’re not satisfied after trying all the other suggestions, plant a tree to provide your home with some extra shade for the years to come. Plus, we all know the Earth could always use another tree.

The next time you’re at home and you’re eager to turn on the air conditioner, consider your options. If it’s finally warm enough for the air conditioner to be necessary, make sure you remember why you tried to keep cool without it in the first place, saving money and the environment. Before you decide to turn it on, make sure it’s working properly and that the system is prepared for the season. A clean and efficient air conditioning system will also help in saving money and energy, every little bit helps!

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