So, last winter I decided that I was going to get crafty and make my own blankets as an incentive to keep the thermostat low. It was a fun project, and it actually worked. I needed more blankets, so I made them. They were warm, so I used them all the time. And hey, I was proud of them! It feels good to make something you love.

Now that it's summer, the blankets are folded up—though they're still out. I like the colors I chose, so I just hung them up in the study. So my simple project ended up being a huge success: Easy home décor, super warm winter blankets, and an easy way to save money!

And now that it's summer, I want to make drapes.

Drapes help keep rooms cooler. They obviously block out the sun. And if you close the drapes in a room that's getting a lot of sunlight (especially white-backed drapes!) then you can stop some of that heat from getting in your home. And if your house isn't as warm, you have to cool it less. And if you're cooling your house less, you're saving money.

I think it'd be cool to make drapes—as opposed to buying them—because I can get exactly what I want this way. I get to choose the appearance, the fabric, the style… Everything! And it can be much cheaper to make drapes than buy them. (Though that really depends on what kind of fabric you buy.)

So! If you're looking for an easy way to cool the house down this year, consider hanging some drapes. And if you're feeling crafty, consider making your own. Just do a search for "how to make drapes" and see what turns up. There are tons of good tutorials out there. And it's really not that hard. Basic drapes are rectangles. A sewing machine helps. (I know I wouldn't attempt to make anything without mine.) But I know a girl who decked her whole house out with a miniature, battery-powered sewing machine.

But if there's one thing I've learned this last year, it's that you're way more likely to complete a project if it's both fun and useful. So if you want to cool the house down this year, why not come up with some creative projects?

Elizabeth Spencer is a communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its websites.