There’s one thing on everyone’s mind right now in the Phoenix area…the heat!  How do you manage to keep your house cool when the temperatures are rising above the 120-degree mark?

One of the most obvious ways to keep the heat out of your home is to block the sun from entering.  You can do this by using sun-blocking shades, screens and drapes among others.

The majority of the sun coming through your home will come through windows facing the south and the west, so these will be the directions you will be most concerned with finding cover for.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your house cool and save on electricity.

Solar screens

About 50 percent of the heat that pours in your house comes through the windows, making it easy to understand the cooling appeal of solar screens.

They also protect your home’s interior from sun damage. Sure, drapes and blinds also work. But solar screens are thicker and better insulate against outdoor temperatures.

Another added benefit is that the solar screens can be removed during the cooler winter season.

Awnings

Awnings block direct sunlight and heat. Studies by the University of Minnesota found that installing awnings can reduce cooling energy needs by 21 percent in Phoenix.

The two basic choices are fixed or adjustable awnings — both equally effective. The advantage of an adjustable awning is that the level of shading can be changed throughout the day and the seasons.

In some situations, you can consider using both solar screens and awnings.

For a more natural and green approach, you can always plant trees.

Trees

Strategically planted trees block the beating sun and cool the home.

According to the Arizona State University Office of Climatology, research shows that shade trees can reduce summer cooling costs by 15 to 35 percent. Shade trees keep an upstairs 20 to 40 degrees cooler on sunny days.

Ceiling fans

Keeping the cool air moving is one of the most effective ways to stay cool inside.  Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.

According to energy.gov, a ceiling fan allows you to raise the thermostat setting about four degrees with no reduction in comfort.

Air Conditioning

And there is just no living without our beloved air conditioners in the desert.

A well-maintained air-conditioning unit works efficiently and helps prevent a breakdown on an 110-degree day. Taking care of your air-conditioner also saves money. Air-conditioners account for more than half of the average homeowner’s summer power bill,

An air-conditioner is like a car. It runs better when regularly maintained.

If the air-conditioner is sitting in the full sun, shade it with landscaping or screens. An air-conditioner operating in the shade uses up to 10 percent less electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

To help those energy bills stay manageable during the inferno months we call summer, try installing a programmable thermostat.

Programmable Thermostats

Raise the thermostat setting as much as you can without sacrificing comfort. For every degree you raise the setting, you can cut cooling bills by as much as five percent. In summer, turning the thermostat up to 78 will keep the cost down.

Other hints that residents who live in the desert have adjusted to are; delaying using heat-generating appliances, such as washer and dryer, your dishwasher, until the evenings, cooking outside in the summer months as much as possible as to not heat up the kitchen and never expecting cold water to come out of the faucet as the water always comes out luke warm.

In spite of it all, the desert is an amazingly beautiful place to live with glorious wonders and views and when your neighbors in the north are digging out of snow storms in a few months and you still get to wear shorts and enjoy the sunshine, you’ll forget all about this short time period and revel in all of the beauty that surrounds you.