5 Inexpensive ways to cool down your home

May 29, 2012 at 7:35 p.m. ET

Spending your paycheck on your air-conditioning bill or sneaking into your neighbor's pool aren't the only ways to keep cool this summer. Maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without resorting to extreme (or expensive) measures.

The oldest trick in the book is in the book for a reason

A circulating fan in high-traffic rooms is a small, one-time investment compared to hundreds of extra dollars on your electric bill. You may think 80 degrees isn't a cool enough temp to set your thermostat to, but with multiple fans moving the cool air throughout the house, you'll be surprised at how comfortable 80 degrees can feel. Try setting your thermostat on a higher-than-normal temperature and scale down a degree at a time, using circulating fans until you reach an agreeable atmosphere.

Total investment: $40-80

Air dry your dishes instead of using the drying cycle

Were you really in a rush to put those dishes away anyway? Let them sit in the dishwasher for 12 to 24 hours, and they'll be just as dry without heating up your kitchen. Not only will it not cost you a penny, but you will save money on your electric bill by not using the drying cycle.

Total investment: $0

Turn off appliances

We all know unplugging our electronics will save our electric bill and our planet's precious resources. But working up a sweat unplugging every single appliance before bedtime will do little to keep your core temperature at a comfortable level. Invest in a power strip and get them all unplugged in one fell swoop.

Total investment: $5-10

Take showers instead of baths

This is where your friend's hot tub comes in if you're looking for a relaxing dip. A short shower uses almost half the amount of water that you use for a hot bath (25 gallons versus 40). While this can sometimes only mean the difference between spending 50 cents and spending a dollar on your electric bill, the little changes can add up if you're looking at a long, sweaty summer.

Total investment: $0

Change your air filters every 30 days during the summer months

Your air conditioning unit may be resting during the winter, but even if you implement the changes above, it's still working harder than usual when the heat rises. Making sure nothing is in its path is a quick and easy way to keep your home healthy and comfortable without a lot of up-front cost.

Total investment: $50-100

Tell us: What temperature do you keep your home at during the summer months?

More ways to beat the heat for cheap

How to choose a portable air conditioner
Energy-efficient appliances
Keep your energy bill in check