There are many affordable ways to stay cool during the hot summer months without running your air conditioner 24 hours a day. Keep reading for 7 alternative tips that are sure to save you money this summer.

1. Get shaded.

Installing sun-blocking blinds and shades will keep your rooms from heating up in the hot afternoon sun. An opaque roller shade will keep out about 80 percent of the heat gain, while standard Venetian blinds can block about 45-50 percent.

2. Use a ceiling fan.

A ceiling fan set to turn counterclockwise will help cool air rise, pushing it up off the floor. Using a fan instead of an air conditioner can save a lot of money. If it's too hot during the day, try relying just on a fan at night.

3. Don't cool the house when you're not at home.

If you're going to be away from your home for more than a few hours, turn your thermostat back up and close the blinds. You'll save more energy turning your air conditioner off than the amount it will take to cool the house back down when you get home.

4. Isolate your thermostat from heat sources.

True story – my air conditioner ran constantly and my house was freezing. I couldn't get it to read the right temperature until I realized the thermostat was on the other side of the wall from my refrigerator. The heat being thrown off by this giant appliance was totally skewing my thermostat readings. Keep heat-releasing devices away from your thermostat.

5. Clean your air conditioner's condenser.

The condenser unit in your air conditioner is the part that sits outside your house. It needs to be clean to work efficiently. Before you start cleaning, shut off the electricity at the unit's disconnect switch and on your main switch panel (and inform other home members not to touch it until you turn it back on!). Once the power is off, remove the access panel. With heavy gloves on, clear out any loose debris inside the unit. Finally, use a hose and soft brush to wash the outer fins and coils. Turn the fan with your hand and make sure it rotates smoothly.

6. Close the registers in your basement.

Most basements are naturally cool, being insulated by soil, and often dark and shaded. Closing the registers in your basement vents will make more cool air available to the rest of the house and save you money.

7. Recycle your air conditioner refrigerant.

Having the refrigerant in your air conditioner recharged and recycled at least once every two years can dramatically increase the efficiency of your unit. Always consult an HVAC professional when attempting to do this.

How to Conserve Energy and Money on Your Air Conditioning