As beautiful as the Central Coast is during the dog days of summer, you’re also sure to notice that it can get hot. And by hot, I mean on a bad day, it’s going to feel like you just opened the oven door to check on the pies no matter where you go.

And with California facing a tough drought, relief could feel like a rare commodity. Leaning on that air conditioning unit too much will also make your energy usage and bills rise faster than the mercury. But luckily, there are plenty of tricks to beating the heat that don’t involve jumping through the sprinklers or driving up those utility bills.

1. Take advantage of naturally cool air
The air that floods through an open window at night or the morning is naturally going to be cooler than what comes in when the sun is out in full force. Take advantage of this by keeping the windows open when it’s coolest outside then trap this air inside by shutting the windows as it begins heating up. Shutting the blinds or curtains to keep the sun out will also help keep the temperatures down indoors.

2. Use the thermostat wisely
To use less energy, set the thermostat higher than usual when nobody’s home – 85 degrees is good -- and then lower it down to 78 degrees when you return. A programmable thermostat could help keep things at the right temperature. If you have ceiling fan, keeping it on will let you raise the thermostat by 4 degrees while remaining comfortable.

3. Watch what appliances you are using
Many of the appliances we use around the house are going to produce a lot of heat, which will be reflected in the home temperature. To combat this, wait until it’s cooler outside before turning on the dishwasher, laundry machines or oven – call it “procrastination with a purpose.” Even using an old-fashioned incandescent lightbulb is going to generate a fair amount of heat. Reconsider whether you need the light on and think about picking up energy efficient LED lightbulbs.

4. Remove humidity, heat left by showers
As refreshing as a shower can feel, it’s going to leave some heat and humidity in the bathroom. However, you can use the bathroom fan to remove it from your home and keep things comfortable indoors.

5. Retreat!
If you’re not comfortable in your favorite room of the house, try falling back into a room that doesn’t receive direct sunlight. It’ll also be coolest on the lowest floor of the home.