Cooling your home in summer can be an expensive prospect, especially as temperatures soar well above comfort level. But, don’t sweat it. Experts say you can dramatically lower your energy bills and stay comfortable too.

“There are a number of easy adjustments and upgrades, at all price points, that can save you energy and money this Summer,” says Mark Demerly, president of Demerly Architects, and chair of the American Institute of Architects’ Custom Residential Architects Network.

To help get you started, Demerly offers some timely advice:

Roof venting

The roof of your home acts as an absorbent. It’s therefore critical to release heat from your roof so that it doesn’t come into the house instead, says Demerly. Proper insulation will prevent heat from coming in and a sound ventilation system will help get rid of build-up.

Start by checking to see if your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. Eave vents, ridge vents and roof venting materials can help push heat out. Consider adding solar-paneled or wind-driven vent pipes, as these will act to pull hot air out of the attic. This upgrade is useful year-round, as insulation helps retain heat as well.

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Windows are critical to keeping your home cool, Demerly says. Keep them open when temperatures are moderate and there’s low humidity. Natural ventilation is free!

Install a window fan facing outward — pushing air out, not in — and open the windows on the opposite side of the house to exhaust the hot air out and pull in cooler outside air. Also, consider using a house fan for the attic, to move more fresh air into your entire home.

Reflect heat out of the house for a larger, yet cost-effective measure by installing window films. You might also consider replacing old windows with a modern energy-efficient option made of insulated glass matched with Low-E coatings and argon gasses. Be aware that casement and awning windows minimize air infiltration better than double hung windows.

Basic home maintenance

Some additional steps you can take to reduce cooling costs include:

Paint your house a lighter, more reflective color.

If you have a flat roof, consider a lighter colored membrane covering, such as Thermoplastic PolyOlefin (TPO), to reflect light. Green roofs, which cover and insulate the surface from heat, can also be applied to exiting flat roofs.

Install more high-efficient air units or alternative systems, like geothermal systems, to provide cost savings.

Plant trees around your home to shade your house in Summer and cool the air.

An architect can help you apply many of these cost-saving initiatives. To find one in your area, visit:

While improving your home’s energy efficiency will save you money in the long run, avoid spending a fortune on the upgrades. “Remember, tax credits exist for many of these ideas, so be sure to look into them before starting any project,” Demerly adds.

A few actions you take now can help you lower your

energy costs all summer. Get started today for a cool, comfortable season. : :

Beat the heat at minimal expense

Energy saving tips from Duke Energy

Clean or replace window unit or central air conditioning system filters monthly. Dirty filters cause air conditioners to work harder and use more energy.

If you have a central air conditioning system, do not close off unused rooms or close air registers in rooms. The system will be less efficient and will cost more to operate.

Make sure an outside air conditioning unit or heat pump is not blocked by shrubbery, leaves or other objects.

Set the thermostat on the highest comfortable setting. Raising the temperature just two degrees can reduce cooling costs by as much as five percent.

Check weather stripping around doors and caulking around windows. Properly sealed doors and windows help prevent warm outside air from entering the home.

Close blinds, shades or drapes during the hottest part of the day to block the sun’s heat.

Make sure the attic is properly ventilated to relieve excess summer heat. Duke Energy recommends one square foot of free area for every 150 square feet of total attic floor space.

Place heat-producing appliances such as lamps and televisions away from the air conditioning thermostat to prevent inaccurate temperature readings.

For homes without air conditioning systems, use fans to draw cooler air inside during the night and to circulate air throughout your home during the day. Fan blades should rotate counter-clockwise in the Summer months.

On hot days, cook outdoors, use a microwave oven or prepare cold meals to avoid excess heat in the kitchen. : :