PHOTO: iStock

In normal times, many professionals can give their homes a cooling break all day long while they’re at work during the summer. This year, however, many offices still have work-from-home policies in place. And kiddos who usually enjoy camp from May to August are also stuck at home. This means your air conditioning units are working harder to ensure a comfortable body temperature — and sanity.

Though seemingly necessary, all that air conditioning can run your electricity bill incredibly high. After all, there’s a big difference between just cranking up the AC at night versus having it blasting an icy breeze all day long.

Since you don’t want to be sweating as you take another Zoom meeting, but you also want to be mindful of your budget, how can you save money this season? Here, home experts offer their most cost-effective strategies for keeping a cool space.

Invest in a smart thermostat

Consider where you spend the most time during the day: The home office? The living room? Kitchen? Rather than having the AC running through every room, it’s better for your wallet to select specific areas only. Unfortunately, this is tricky if you have an older unit, or your home hasn’t been recently updated. Luckily, recent tech developments have created a loophole via smart thermostats, according to home flipper and Villa Real Estate Realtor AJ Olson Whitfield.

“It is time to invest in a thermostat that allows you to set a range. This helps your unit from working in overdrive to maintain a constant temp,” she explains. “Also, smart thermostats have eco settings to help you save on your energy bills. Look for the leaf on packages.”

Try this: Google Nest Learning Thermostat ($224, originally $249;

Google Nest Learning Thermostat
Google Nest Learning Thermostat

This is the first smart thermostat to receive Energy Star certification, and the company estimates it can pay for itself in bill savings within two years. As an additional benefit, you can geek out via its app, which shows your energy history, humidity levels, trends and more.

Plant greenery on the sunny side of your home

Believe it or not, your outdoor landscaping can have a significant impact on your indoor temperatures, according to interior designer Jodi Davison. By selecting climate-smart greenery and planting it on the sunny side of your home, you cut back on the sunlight that pours through your windows. Also, indoor plants create humidity from the leaves, cooling the air around the plant and room. Davison recommends ficus trees or ferns for the best results.

Try these: Ficus Lyrata Plant in 9.25 in. Grower Pot ($25.23;

Ficus Lyrata Plant in 9.25 in. Grower Pot
Ficus Lyrata Plant in 9.25 in. Grower Pot

As beautiful as they are useful, consider purchasing a few of these. It’s a win-win for home decor — and temperature regulation.

Fiddle Leaf Fig ($195;

Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle Leaf Fig

Measuring about 4 feet tall, this gorgeous plant comes with a planter in a lovely muted shade, and with plenty of instructions on how to keep it alive and thriving.

Use a ceiling fan

Have you looked up recently? There’s a reason ceiling fans have never gone out of style, since they are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to cool down any area.

“They continually circulate air throughout the room like a cool breeze and help to make the room feel colder than it really is,” explains Ward Schraeder, a DIY home improvement expert and co-host of “Bargain Mansions” on HGTV. In the summer, he says, the blade rotation should be set to force the air straight down for the best results.

Try this: Merwry 52 in. Integrated LED Indoor Ceiling Fan ($119;

Merwry 52 in. Integrated LED Indoor Ceiling Fan
Merwry 52 in. Integrated LED Indoor Ceiling Fan

With more than 2,000 reviews, this sleek, energy-efficient fan is loved by reviewers, and it’s available in three colors: white, brushed nickel and matte black. The best part? It comes with a remote control, so you can turn it on without leaving your couch or bed.

Service your air conditioning unit

Whitfield says the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does not apply to your air conditioning unit. How come? She explains it’s a hard-run piece of equipment that requires frequent cleaning and maintenance.

“Replace those air filters and hose down/clean those fan coils, so your units are running at optimum efficiency,” she says. “This will save on your energy consumption and make sure you get through the hottest days with a functional unit.”

Try this: LG Electronics 14,000 BTU Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner ($549;