Hot summer months trigger a sharp increase in energy consumption. Not surprisingly, much of the energy that contributes to spiking electrical bills is from cooling the house. Turning on air conditioning is inevitable for most people because Nebraska summers are so hot and steamy, but cranking up the air doesn’t have to make a person hot under the collar while paying the bill if they follow a few tips from Nebraska Public Power District.

NPPD offers the tips out of self-interest. The hot months of summer create the highest demand for electricity, but supplying power during high-demand periods is expensive. Utilities such as NPPD keep costs down by reducing demands during peak consumption periods, such as hot days when farmers must irrigate their crops or when Nebraskans are at home and want to enjoy the coolness and comfort the air conditioner provides.

Cory Fuehrer, manager of NPPD’s Energy Efficiency Program, said the average Nebraska house consumes 10 percent of its annual energy to keep cool.

Fuehrer said houses don’t heat up as rapidly if their owners use shades or blinds during the day and keep windows closed. The shades will prevent the greenhouse effect of blazing sunlight heating the interior of the home, while closing the windows helps keep cool air trapped inside and hot summer air outside.

For homeowners who enjoy fiddling with controls, here’s a tip right up your alley. The U.S. Department of Energy advises setting thermostats at 78 degrees while you are home during the day, and 85 degrees when your house is unoccupied. If the house still is uncomfortably hot, use ceiling or floor fans to circulate interior air.

Spinning the fans, Fuehrer said, makes it feel four degrees cooler inside.

Another great idea is to avoid generating heat indoors. Don’t heat your house by placing a roast in the oven. Instead of cooking in the kitchen, think of meals that can be prepared outside on the grill. The grilled meals taste great, and their preparation isn’t heating up the inside of the house. Remember, every time you avoid tripping the thermostat to turn on the air conditioner, you’re taking a little of the shock out of your electric bill.

Another suggestion: Check your air conditioner to ensure it’s running efficiently. Most people are capable of checking their air filter. If it’s dirty and clogged, replace it with a high-volume filter. The high volume allows cool air to more easily circulate, but still captures debris to clean your air.

Finally, check for incentives at or with your local power provider. If it’s time to replace your outdated A/C system with something more efficient, there may be incentives that can help you with your big investment.