Summer in the Colorado Front Range is one of the best times of year to get outside and explore, head to higher elevations for gorgeous views and cooler temps - but down in 'the flats' it sure can get hot. So what's a homeowner to do when you're trying to save on utility bills and keep your cool at home throughout the season? Here are a few ideas to help you keep comfortable and cool indoors without breaking the bank by blasting the air conditioner.

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is always important in the Rocky Mountains - living at altitude requires a whole lotta water, but this is especially true in the summer. Staying hydrated helps your body regulate temperature more easily and cool down faster when it needs to. The rule of thumb is 64 oz. per day, but keep in mind that this number changes based on your weight, activity level, and consumption of things like alcohol and caffeine. Sip on water from a reusable bottle throughout the day and you should be good to go!

Set the Mood Lighting

All the lights in your house give off heat. While standard incandescent bulbs give off more heat than more energy-efficient LEDs and compact florescents (CFLs) - and we agree these are smart investments - at the end of the day, all lights give off heat. If you want to keep your home as cool as possible for as long as possible during the day, keep the lights off. Hey, there's nothing wrong with a little added ambiance!

Close Some Curtains or Shades

With the sun blasting away on your home during the heat of the day, consider closing shades and curtains to help keep the inside of your home as cool as you can, as long as you can. Insulated shades and curtains can add important insulation value, just like well-insulated walls and attic. If this sounds like an idea you want to play around with, first concentrate on closing window coverings on the sides of your home where the sun is shining in, keeping direct solar gain at a mininimum. On especially hot days, consider closing curtains even on the shady side of your home. Adding window coverings where you currently have none, can be a wise long term investment.

It's Cookout Time!

For those of you that take to baking in the winter to warm up the house, this won't come as any surprise to you, but slaving over the stove and oven heats up your home quickly, especially if it's a smaller space. Instead, save yourself some degrees and take the cooking outside. It's perfect grilling weather these days, so why not take advantage? Grilling outdoors gives you the opportunity to spend more time outside and keeps your home cooler while giving you delicious fare for the whole family.

Another cool cooking theme to consider is avoiding hot, spicy foods when the temperature climbs. Give your system a break and try some cool salads and milder grille fare, along with a nice glass of lemonade, ice tea, or even better, simply ice water. Of course, there's no law against margaritas, but don't expect them to have a lasting cooling effect!

Chill Yourself Down

This one might be a little harder to swallow if you're the type who loves standing under a stream of borderline-scalding hot water, but cool showers can help regulate your body temperature and keep you cooler, longer. If beating the heat naturally is what you're going for, this is a great way to lower your core temperature and keep that cool feeling lasting longer, far better than just splashing cold water on your face or placing an ice cube on your pulse points (though that helps a lot, too!)

Or, maybe consider doing like the kids? How about running through the sprinklers or having a good old fashion water balloon or squirt gun 'turf war' in the front or backyard? If you don't burn too many calories along the way, this sure could cool you down!

Create a Breeze

If your goal is to lessen the amount of time you rely on those larger central cooling units, but you still want a a little mechanical help, creating a simple cross breeze with two fans can help avoid the air getting stagnant within your home. It may not alter the indoor temperature all that much, but your comfort will be increased by the moving air.

Another way to help lessen the load on your AC system is to consider adding permanent fan systems such as whole house fans, ceiling fans, and attic ventilators, all of which can compliment help lower your AC bills and increase comfort levels. Ask your trusted HVAC service company for more information.

Consider A New Cooling System

If the above tips don't get you all the way there and it makes sense for you to consider investing in a new or upgraded cooling system for your home, here's some of the most cooling popular options that don't involve sacrificing a window or cutting a huge hole in the wall:

Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative coolers are budget-friendly on operating costs and are an environmentally-sound choice for cooling your home. For popular, effective central systems, an evaporative cooler is typically mounted on your roof and a large fan blows fresh outdoor air that has been moistened and cooled in the unit, into your home. Windows and/or doors are opened to direct the cool, moist air through the home and exhaust stagnant warm air to the outdoors.

Ductless Air Conditioners

Ductless AC allows you the ability to dial in the precise comfort level you desire for any room or area where a unit is installed. These highly efficient, ultra-quiet air conditioners (and heat pumps) make it possible to have different comfort zones around your home. Great for homes with no cooling or ducting system, or homes with a few problem areas, ductless systems can compliment an existing central system (think upstairs bedrooms) or provide complete independent home comfort.

Central Air Conditioning

This one's probably the most obvious, but it's still worth mentioning that if your home has a ducting system, a central AC unit is a solid choice for whole-home comfort that's adjustable for what you and your family need to feel truly comfortable, even in the hottest of summer heats. You can choose from a wide variety of moderate to high-efficiency central air conditioning units, along with popular enhanced comfort options such as two-stage and modulating systems. Two-stage and modulating central air conditioners help distribute cooling more evenly around your home than standard single-stage systems, and feature high efficiency ratings and low operating sound levels.

However you do it, we hope you stay cool this summer, and that some of these tips and cooling system info will help you out. In the Denver-Boulder area, if you need honest, expert cooling advice, or assistance keeping an existing system working at optimum efficiency (Reminder: Check the furnace filter and inspect the outdoor unit!), the friendly, experienced staff at Save Home Heat Company is ready and eager to lend a helping hand.