5 easy ways to knock the heat out of your home this summer

Windows are responsible for 30% of your home's interior temperature.

It's hard to believe, but the hot, hazy, humid days of summer are approaching. By the looks of it, the season promises to be a real scorcher for most of the country.

According to The Weather Channel's long range forecast, the level of warmth expected breaks down into one of two categories: above average and much above average. Save for southeast Texas, where temperatures may actually be lower than what's typical in June through August, conditions will be much steamier than normal in the northern quadrant of the country, and above average just about everywhere else south of Nebraska.

In short: Air conditioners across the country are sure to be cranking this summer as Americans try to beat the heat. While the A/C is nice to have on especially oppressive days and evenings, many of us don't want to have it running all season long, if for no other reason than to save on energy bills.

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to stay comfortable in the coming months, many of which don't require a plug. Here are a few heat-defeating hacks you can whip out to fight back against those stiflingly hot muggy days:

Eat cooling foods

There's nothing more satisfying than an ice cold glass of lemonade, especially after taking care of summer chores, like mowing the lawn or laying down grass seed. Drinking plenty of liquids is key to staying hydrated, but there are lots of foods that can help lower your internal body temperature. For example, sherbet is one of the best desserts to have, as the sweet taste provides a deliciously effective cooling sensation. Watermelon is great to have as well. There are even some main courses that can lend some much-needed chill to the atmosphere, like gazpacho – Alton Brown of the Food Network has a great recipe – or salads made with lots of leafy green vegetables.

Change the bed sheets

There's something about changing the bed sheets that helps the body go to sleep faster. Most recommend that you change the linens in your bedroom once every two to three weeks, but you may want to do swap them out for a fresh set on a weekly basis in the summer months. Your sheets – as well as your mattress – can trap in body heat and oils that are shed while slumbering. Out with the old and in with the new can help you steer clear of nights spent tossing and turning when the heat is keeping you up.

Unplug – literally

You wouldn't think that something as seemingly insignificant as a home appliance would heat up your house. In reality, however, every machine that requires electricity to run produces heat. So when the coffee maker, dishwasher, and microwave are all operating at once, all that warmth is going somewhere – and it's not outside. If you don't absolutely need to use your appliances, keep them off, including the lights.

Run ceiling fan counterclockwise

Ceiling fans can really add to a homey look, which is part of the reason why they became so popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Stylish though they may be, ceiling fans are first and foremost practical, making the house cooler by increasing airflow. What people often fail to realize is the direction that the fan blades circulate in matters. There should be a toggle knob or switch on your ceiling fan. Make sure that it's switched so the blades move in a counterclockwise motion. This will enhance the fan's effectiveness.

Address the windows

What the eyes are to the soul, windows are to the home. Opening up the windows is ideal for when it's warm but not uncomfortably so, but on days when you can cut the air with a knife it's so humid, try lowering the shades. It's estimated that 30% of a home's temperature is attributable to the windows, both during summer and winter.

Check out the Huffington Post for some other tips to stay cool this summer and beat the heat.