As temperatures rise, you’ll be tempted to slide that thermostat down. Summer heat can mean astronomical utility bills if you rely on air conditioning to keep your home cool. Lessen your dependence on the AC unit this summer with these tips for keeping your home cool naturally. Keep the sun out Summer sunshine might be cheery, but it brings an extraordinary amount of heat into the home. Keep the sun—and its heat—out by closing blinds, drapes and windows during the day. Light-colored window treatments can reflect light and heat away from your home as well. Or consider building interior shutters, which will block the sun in summer and increase your home’s insulation value for winter. While a sunny home sounds cheery, sunlight brings heat. Keep curtains, shades and blinds closed to prevent your home from overheating Don’t create excess heat Appliances and lighting generate heat when in use. To keep your home cooler, turn off unnecessary lighting, and swap out heat-producing incandescent light bulbs for cooler compact fluorescent light bulbs. Try to use appliances during the coolest part of the day. Instead of using the stove or oven for food preparation, enjoy a salad or a sandwich, use the outside grill or prepare meals in your slow cooker. Fan it Make good use of all types of fans: ceiling fans, box fans, attic fans. Adjust your ceiling fans’ blades so that the leading edge is higher, which will circulate cool air. When the temperature drops at night, open the windows and place fans on the windowsill to draw in cool air. For an extra cool breeze, place a frozen water bottle in front of the fan. Attic fans can also pull in cooler air from outside. Use fans to cool your home. Place a fan on an open windowsill at night to draw in cool air, or place a frozen water bottle in front of a fan to increase its cooling capacity. Cross ventilate If it’s windy outside, you can create a breeze in your home by strategically opening your windows. To do so, it’s crucial to know which way the wind is blowing. When wind blows against a building, it creates a high-pressure area on the side where it hits and a low-pressure area on the opposite side. The wind naturally wants to move from the area of high pressure to the area of low pressure, so opening windows on both sides of your home will allow the air to move through your house, creating a breeze. Be smart about landscaping Strategically placed trees, shrubs and vines can all cool a home. Place deciduous trees and shrubs on your home’s east and west sides to block sun from entering your home. Grow vines up the side of your home to shade walls from hot sunshine. And plant leafy groundcovers to cool the area around your home.