The dog days of summer can be brutal on utility bills and a major drain for pocketbooks, but they don’t have to be.

During the hottest months of the year, water is wasted because of over-irrigation, and air conditioning systems are forced to run longer to keep indoor temperatures cool. While scorching temperatures can push water and energy consumption to its limits, there are ways to consume less and save more.

“Reducing water and energy consumption isn’t as difficult as many think,” says Rhonda Hills of, an online resource for homeowners looking for expert home advice. “Even minor changes in behavior and small investments in energy-conscious materials can make a big difference.”


The home experts at recommend the following actions to provide short-term and long-term relief as the mercury rises.

• Install a soil or rain sensor. Soil and rain sensors are effective water conservation tools. Soil sensors monitor the soil’s moisture content and allow sprinklers to operate only when water is needed. Rain sensors detect precipitation and shut off sprinklers if it is raining. Both devices are upgrades from traditional timers and can greatly reduce water usage.

• Replace old windows. Windows are a major source of energy loss in most homes. Old, single-paned windows are inefficient and will allow radiant heat from the sun to increase indoor temperatures. Replacing old windows with Energy Star-rated windows can save 7 to 15 percent on energy bills and increase comfort within the home.

• Use ceiling fans to circulate air. Ceiling fans do not reduce indoor temperatures, but they can make the home feel more comfortable. Fans work by circulating air across the skin and creating a wind chill effect which makes inhabitants feel cooler. It’s been proven that using a fan can allow homeowners to turn up their thermostat by 4 degrees with no drop in comfort level. Ensure the fan’s blades are turning counterclockwise during the summer to maximize the wind chill effect.