Blasting the A/C may keep your house cool in the summer, but it won't help your bottom line. If your budget could use a break, you may want to focus on your windows - or at least what's hanging around them.
Window treatments not only bring a stylish touch to any room, but they can also provide shade from the sun. Experts say window blinds, either vertical or horizontal, can reduce solar heat gain by 45 percent. Insulated draperies can also improve your efficiency, but you need to pay attention to the fabric type and color.
"When it comes to keeping cool in the summertime grandma's advice about pulling the drapes on windows that face the west and the south still holds true. Using a medium-colored drape with a white plastic backing can cut your solar heat gain by 33 percent," said Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks.
Certain window shades can also help slash energy costs.
"One of the most efficient window coverings is cellular or honeycomb shades. They have a gap of air between the cells which helps as a barrier for that warm air and the heat coming in, that solar heat coming in," said window covering company owner, Patt Rebb.
Shutters can be placed either on the inside or outside of your home.
"A shutter is also very efficient because it's covering also the sides of your window with a frame, when you do it with a frame, other than just a direct mount," said Rebb.
"Another way to tackle the solar heat gain in your home is awnings. Window awnings today are more fashionable than days gone by. There's different types of materials as well as colors and styles. The great thing about awnings is they can cut your solar heat gain by about 77 percent," said Hicks.
Awnings can be stationary or retractable, giving homeowners the option of having an awning or enjoying the sunshine.
"The new fabrics that are out now relative to 30 years ago are just phenomenal. The typical pro-rated warranty is for 10 years but generally you're going to get 12 to 15 years out of the fabric, which is a great thing relative to a dollar per year cost of the product," said awning company owner, Matt Garvey.
The key to reducing energy use in your home is ensuring window treatments are installed properly.
Angie's List found most window treatment companies do offer free in-home consultations.