BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Our region continues to suffer from the extraordinary heat. Many homeowners and renters are concerned with their utility bills and looking for strategies to reduce usage while staying comfortable. During these very hot days, it is important to take care of yourself. “Older people and the very young may have particular difficulties coping with hot weather,” says University of Missouri Extension housing and environmental design specialist Marsha Alexander.

During times of extreme heat, 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. Stay away from alcohol or beverages with caffeine. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight natural fiber clothing that is also light in color. Listed below are specific strategies for managing the heat within your home while saving energy dollars.

Attic temperatures can reach excessively high levels, putting an enormous load on air conditioning units. Proper attic ventilation is important.

Maintain your air conditioner with 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. Use 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 12-25 percent on your home energy costs.

Use ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate the air inside. Ceiling fans are most efficient in rooms with ceilings at least 8 feet high. According to the U.S. 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, and not rooms.

Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). CFLs use 50-75 percent less electricity and do not emit the heat associated with incandescent bulbs. Also, LEDs (light emitting diodes) are a great strategy for energy savings and require significantly less electricity and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Look for the Energy Star label when purchasing new bulbs to ensure the highest quality products. Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.

Close window treatments including shades, blinds, and draperies to reduce solar warming inside your home.

Do the laundry, wash dishes, and bathe late at night or early morning to reduce increased humidity indoors. Skip the dishwasher’s drying cycle and air-dry dishes instead. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Take short showers instead of baths and use energy-efficient, water-saver showerheads for extra energy savings. For cooking indoors, use a microwave oven. It uses less electricity and generates less heat than a regular oven.

Using these ideas can reduce your energy bill and help to maintain a more comfortable home for you and your family. For more information on energy management strategies, contact your local MU Extension center or visit