Making Ends Meet: Save up to 10% on your electric bill by making one tweak to your thermostat

Add beating the summer heat to the list of things costing you more. According to new energy projections, look out for a nearly 8% increase -- or about $719 more -- to cool a home.

“You’re going to use more energy and spend more money to keep the same amount of space just as cool,” said Dan Wrocklawski with Consumer Reports.

But Wrocklawski says you can save money on your monthly electric bill by doing a few things.

First, turn up your AC. While this might cause a heated argument in your home, you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply adjusting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day. The question is, will you be comfortable?

“If you do convince your family to turn up the AC, using a ceiling fan or box fan can make up the difference; running one will actually make the room feel as much as 4 or even 5 degrees cooler,” Wrocklawski explained.

Also, invest in some technology for your home -- specifically a smart or programmable thermostat. They make it easy to set a money-saving energy-conserving schedule.

“Using a programmable thermostat is really the most effective way to save money and it’ll even help you save money on heating bills in the winter,” Wrocklawski said.

Some thermostats, like the $250 Google Nest Smart Learning Thermostat, will learn your day-to-day cooling preferences and adjust accordingly.

Next, repair any leaky AC ductwork for central air and fill in holes and cracks around your windows and doors. Insulate around your window air conditioners to keep warm air from entering and cool air from escaping.

Also, close your curtains and blinds during the day to keep the sun from heating your home.

But never sacrifice safety for savings. Heat-related deaths and illnesses happen quickly and far too often. At the very least, consider a window air conditioner where you sleep.

The small-capacity Frigidaire FHWW064WD1 that costs $289 cools up to 250 square feet and earned an excellent rating in Consumer Reports’ brownout tests, which are designed to mimic conditions you might find in extreme heat when the power grid is overloaded.

Energy assistance programs and resources that can also help offset higher utility bills:

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