As you watch the mercury climb higher every day, you've probably begun thinking about how much money you'll be spending on energy to cool your home this summer. Air conditioning can be an expensive luxury that may make saving for family vacations or other fun activities a chore, so it's nice to know that there are affordable methods for cutting down your electricity bill that are also eco-friendly. Here are a few home design tips to keep in mind.

Ceiling fans
If it's a warm day outside, you can help cool things down indoors with classic ceiling fans. These devices are great for circulating fresh air around your home without breaking the bank. You can also use these in combination with custom window shades to limit the amount of direct sunlight that comes through your windows to keep your house comfortable when the sun is high in the sky.

During the summertime, cool air from your home's interior can leak out through gaps around your windows and doors. To help keep the cold in while blocking the heat outside, make sure that you properly weatherproof entryways and portals. Rubber strips, a door runner and outer storm windows are all effective means of doing this.

Smarter appliance use
Believe it or not, your home's appliances and electronic devices generate a significant amount of heat when they're in use. This is particularly true for items such as your dishwasher, washer/dryer and desktop computer. To reduce the amount of heat these appliances add to your home, consider using them primarily at night, when temperatures outside are cool. Nighttime off-peak energy hours will also mean that you're saving on energy consumption.

Window Treatments
Blinds and shades block the sunlight from entering and heating up your house. Solar shades tend to be very popular in that they block some light, yet have tiny openings that won't eliminate your view.