SmartMoney has some ideas on how to save money on energy this summer.

Typically, the average household spends $1,400 a year on electricity and gas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But you can expect that amount to jump this year — by as much as 120%, warns Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

To save money, SmartMoney suggests that you:

  • Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances. Energy-efficient appliances are generally more expensive, but there are often tax credits available. And the long-term savings makes up for the initial expense.
  • Be a night owl. This isn’t an option for everyone, but some utilities offer a discount during off-peak hours.
  • Get with the program. The small expense of a programmable thermostat can save you money in the long run. When you’re not home in the summer, set the thermostat at higher temperatures.
  • Use fans. Fans are cheaper to operate than air conditioners. The Get Rich Slowly compound has no air-conditioning at all, but we have several fans at key locations.
  • Clean up. If you do use an air conditioner, clean the filters and coils before the season begins, and then once a month during the summer.
  • Blow off steam. Lower the thermostat on your water heater. (This is a good way to save money year-round, but some of us like hot showers and baths in the winter.)
  • Green your yard. This point is worth its own entry. (And look for the Get Rich Slowly guide to frugal lawn care coming soon.) Essentially: trees and shrubs use less water than grass. They can also provide valuable shade.
  • Seal it in. The hot weather and direct sun can open new leaks in your home — conduct a home energy audit to spot problem areas.
  • Free you outlets. Unplugging certain appliances when they’re not in use can save you money. (The article notes that leaving your computer on all the time can cost an extra $88/year. I’ll start putting my machine to sleep when I’m away.)

There are other ways to save that the article fails to mention. I’m a proponent of only turning on lights if you need them, especially during the summer. (From now til August, I can go days without turning on lights in most rooms in the house.) Don’t water your lawn (or water it very little) — allow the grass to go dormant. Don’t use your range — fix cool meals (salads, sandwiches) or grill outdoors.