July is historically the hottest month of the year. You can get a jump on sweltering weather, though, by following these summer energy efficiency tips:

• If you can do without the sunlight, close drapes and shutter blinds – especially those that face south – to reduce solar gain.

• Stagger your use of large appliances such as washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers and ovens. If possible, use them at times when your air conditioner isn’t also running, like the morning and early evening. You can also save energy by air-drying clothing indoors or outdoors, though the latter is quicker in warm weather.

• Fire up the grill or smoker as an alternative to the oven, which heats up the kitchen and adjacent spaces and makes your AC work harder. When possible, use the most energy-efficient device to prepare food, and properly sized cookware for each burner on an electric range.

• Add insulation, which traps cooler air inside your home during the summer. Most homes in IREA’s service territory should have insulation with a resistance rating between R38 and R60.

With many people working remotely, we also have tips for energy efficiency during those extra hours spent at home:

• Reconsider which devices you use to stream digital content. Video game consoles, for example, draw significantly more power than the dedicated streaming devices manufactured by Apple, Amazon, Roku and others. Built-in apps on your TV can also reduce power consumption.

• Consider purchasing and installing a smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save up to 10% on cooling costs when programmed effectively. Some models are also capable of passively learning your new energy-use patterns and can adjust temperatures accordingly.

• Use a ceiling fan for temporary comfort in individual rooms. The cost to power a ceiling fan is a fraction of multi-room air conditioning. A fan only cools nearby occupants and does not lower the temperature of a room, so be sure to turn it off when no one is in the room.