Have a Cool Summer: Tips to Stay Safe and Save Energy

The Austin city skyline in a yellow-hue from the sun.

With the arrival of triple-digit days, Austin is heating up. Scorching summer heat can pose significant dangers. In fact, heat waves claim more lives among Americans than many other natural disasters including floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Heat waves are especially concerning for older adults, folks with respiratory conditions, and people that lack access to air conditioning and shade trees.

Heat waves also stress our power grid. During extreme heat, air conditioners run longer and work harder — emitting more greenhouse gases, worsening climate change, and increasing our electricity bills.

With the goal of equitably reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, the Office of Sustainability encourages you to follow these warm-weather tips to stay cool, reduce your energy bill, and take action against climate change...

A woman lowers her blinds.

Shut Out the Sun

Close the blinds on the south and west side of your home during daytime hours. Studies have shown that approximately 40 percent of heat comes through windows during the summer.

A close up of a hand putting food in a microwave.

Be a Cool Cook

An easy way to keep your house cool is to avoid turning on the oven. Use your microwave more, cook outside on a grill in the shade, or plan meals that require no cooking.

A close up on a hand raising a thermostat.

Raise to Save

Austin Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher. Each degree lower increases your energy use by 6 to 8 percent. They also recommend turning off your AC or raising the temperature to 85 degrees if you plan to be away from home for two hours or more.

A woman changes the temperature on a smart thermostat.

Invest in a Smart Thermostat

Installing a wifi-enabled thermostat let's you control your AC from anywhere — and you can even get an incentive from Austin Energy.

A close up of a hand reaching for a light switch.

Turn Off Unused Electronics

Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms and limit the use of electronics. Computers, TVs, and other devices can emit heat and use energy, even in standby mode.

A ceiling fan.

Move Your Air

Ceiling fans are most effective in the summer when set to rotate counterclockwise, blowing the air down and maximizing the wind chill effect. But remember to turn off the fan when you’re no longer in the room. Another old-school trick is to set a pan of ice in front of a fan.

A home with a large oak tree in the yard.

Go Green with Shade

They may take a few years to mature, but trees are a highly effective way to shade your home. Even tall perennials, like sunflowers and native plants, can help provide relief from the blistering sun. Just remember: tree planting season runs from October thru March in Central Texas when cooler weather allows them to become well-established. Any trees planted now will likely not survive our summer heat.

A child eats a large slice of watermelon.

Eat Juicy Foods

Fruits and veggies with high water content (like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and zucchinis) are your friends this summer. They can help you gain important nutrients and stay hydrated when you include them in your meal plans. Plus, you can support your local farmers as many of these items are in season in Central Texas!

A girl drinks from a reusable water bottle with the sun behind her.

Stay Safe and Hydrated

Limit outdoor activity during the hottest times of the day. If you must be outside, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, and remember to drink lots and lots of water.

A young girl hugs an older woman inside a front door.

Be a Buddy

When it’s hot, check in on neighbors and family to make sure they are safe and cool.


With Austin experiencing high heat over the next few months, following these tips can help you stay safe while also conserving energy — what could be cooler than that?

Want to explore further? Find more heat safety tips.