By fall, most homeowners are looking forward to turning off the air conditioner and saving some money on the electric bill before it's time to turn the heat on in the winter. But in many parts of the country this fall, cities are experiencing unseasonal heat waves, with temperatures climbing into the high 80s and low 90s. If you were counting on savings from your cooling costs to help you with your holiday expenses this year, you might be starting to get worried. There isn't a lot you can do about the temperatures outside, but there are some ways for you to get a handle on your energy costs. Take a look at some cool tips to help you through the heat wave.

Consider Humidity When You Set Your Fan Speed

If you want your air conditioner to cool your home efficiently, you have to consider more than just the temperature. The humidity in the air affects the comfort that you feel, and you won't have to turn the temperature down as far if you can remove the humidity from the air effectively. Adjusting the fan speed on your thermostat can help remove the humidity.

On humid days, set the fan speed to low. The slower motion of the air through the air-conditioner equipment removes more moisture from the air, which means that you'll be more comfortable without continuing to lower the temperature. On dry days, set the fan speed to high. The faster-moving air will cool you down more quickly.

Generate Less Indoor Heat

There are a lot of things that you do indoors to generate indoor heat and drive the temperature up, causing your air conditioner to have to work that much harder to cool you off. If you generate less indoor heat, you'll stay cooler and your air conditioner won't get as much of a workout, and that will help keep your cooling costs under control. Some things you can do to generate less indoor heat include the following.

  • Turn off the oven and stove. Make cold meals like sandwiches or salads during a heat wave or take the opportunity to grill outdoors. If you need to use the oven, try to wait until after the sun sets when the temperatures are lower.
  • Wash at night. Your dishwasher and washing machine not only generate their own heat but also put your hot-water heater to work, which creates even more indoor heat. Wash clothes and dishes at night instead of in the middle of the day.
  • Dry during the day. As long as the weather is sunny and dry, why not take advantage of it to dry your clothes? Instead of running the dryer, hang a clothesline outside and let clothing dry on the line.

Think Ahead

Chances are, this year won't be the last year with record heat waves, both in and out of season. 2015 was the hottest year on record, but the record it broke was set in 2014, and 2016 looks likely to set new records of its own. In other words, this is a pattern that isn't showing signs of stopping, so it pays to think ahead about ways to keep your cooling costs down.

Consider planting leafy trees and shrubs that can shade your windows and roof. This will considerably reduce the amount of heat that penetrates your house. It also helps to shade the outdoor air-conditioning unit—it can cool more efficiently if it doesn't get as hot. Also, if you have an older air conditioner, investing in a newer, more energy-efficient unit can save you a lot of money in the long run. And no matter what the age of your air conditioner, having the unit inspected and serviced regularly can help keep it in good shape and running efficiently.

If your home air conditioner isn't keeping you cool enough, or if your cooling costs seem to have skyrocketed without explanation, you may be in need of some repairs. Contact a reputable air-conditioning service in your air to have your AC evaluated. Visit sites such as to find companies near you.