Once the temperature hits the 70s, the handy types among us get a little wide-eyed and twitchy-fingered. We just can't wait to strap on the tool belt, bust out that ladder and take a trip down the sawdust-scented aisles of our local hardware store.  Summer is prime home-improvement season in Montgomery County and the rest of PA (did you schedule that AC installation yet?), and if you've got some pet projects in the works this year, don't waste the opportunity to maximize your energy bills while you're at it. Here are three ways that Home Depot gift card you got for Christmas can not only make your home look gorgeous, but also keep your cooling bills low.

tools and home improvement items

Treat Your Windows

Curtains are more than just a pretty face for your living room. They can be a serious energy-saver, provided that you install them the right way. The fabric itself can act as extra insulation against the sun's rays, which can cook up a room quickly. Heavy curtains with white reflective backings can deflect sunlight from heating up your home, letting you turn down the thermostat a few notches. Make sure that you hang your drapes properly for the full effect: curtains should be flush against the wall and run the length of the top of the window to the sill or floor.

Buy a Grill (Really)

Yep, we're giving you permission to go for that grill you've been eyeing. Why? Because cooking indoors, believe it or not, can be a huge drain on your energy bills. Using your stovetop or oven can increase your indoor temperature rapidly, resulting in high air conditioning usage. Cooking outside removes that factor entirely. Plus, think of all the cheap eats you can enjoy off the grill: hot dogs, burgers, veggies, even grilled fruit all go for low prices. Stock up on supermarket sales and enjoy grilling outdoors all summer long.

Take Some Off the Top

Your roof has a huge impact on your heating bills. With the right insulation, you can prevent the top-down heating effect that strong sunlight has once it hits your roof. If your attic or roof isn't already insulated, lining it with fiberglass or other heavy-duty insulating material will prevent cool air from escaping from the house. A roof that's been sealed will also go a long way in preventing air loss. Consider reflective coatings for your roof, as well, which essentially have the same effect as reflective

There are some things a trip to Home Depot can fix, but we're still here for you if you need anything like emergency AC repair in Montgomery County, PA. In the meantime, we salute you, those about to hammer, drill, and drywall.