Many of us know that during the summer, temperatures aren't the only thing skyrocketing—our energy bills usually also reach record highs due to the cooling measures required to keep ourselves, our pets, and even some of our household items comfortable.

We've talked before about properly setting thermostats, especially programmable thermostats to maintain the appropriate settings while you're home, asleep or away.

I've witnessed the results achieved when a regular thermostat is replaced with one that allows you to adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. While at work, sleeping or on a summer vacation, if you set the temperature up for eight or even 12 hours out of 24 hours in a day, you will see significant energy-cost savings.

If you're a renter and your electric bill is covered by your landlord and you can't stand a muggy house or apartment so you keep the air conditioning flowing all day, a simple way to maintain comfort and save energy (even if it's at no cost to you) is set your programmable thermostat to 10 – 15 degrees warmer for a specific period in the day, and to automatically lower to nothing below 78°F when you're home. This way, you are unlikely to forget to adjust the temperature and find yourself excited to come home and relax comfortably after a long day at work or fun day in the sun.

Programmable thermostats are an ENERGY STAR product and can be purchased at many appliance and regular department stores.

As we approach the month of July, often the hottest month in many states, I wish you luck and encourage you to try this energy saving approach in your own household.

Kristin Swineford supports DOE's Weatherization & Intergovernmental Program in Communications & Outreach.