The backyard barbecue is as American as burgers and fireworks on the Fourth of July. Cooking out on any day, though, is a good energy-saving alternative to cooking in. Here are some suggestions for reducing your energy costs this summer:

Grilling is an energy-efficient alternative to cooking indoors. Plus it gets you and the family outdoors for some fresh air and recreation, and it makes a great reason for hosting guests if social distancing is possible. If possible, consider using a natural gas grill, which produces less carbon emissions than a charcoal grill.

Schedule a cookout for dusk or later when the temperatures go down. This way your family and guests will feel more comfortable being outdoors. The more people you have inside your home, the warmer it gets, which can cause your cooling costs to climb as you try to keep everyone comfortable.

Spend the day at a beachside or lakefront park with picnic areas. You not only get out of the house for some time in the water, but you can save some energy at home. Just raise your thermostat to 80 degrees before you leave and, if it’s programmable, have it reset to 78 degrees an hour before you return.

Use the oven as little as possible to avoid heating up the house in already-hot weather. Try to incorporate no-bake dishes or use devices that consume less energy, like a crockpot, toaster oven or microwave oven.

Chill refreshments in coolers or tubs of ice at backyard barbecues. Doing this keeps people from going in and out of the house to get drinks out of the fridge. Opening doors allows air conditioning to escape and opening the fridge frequently wastes energy.

Use reusable cutlery and dishes instead of disposable eating utensils. You’ll save money and spare the environment more waste. But if you do go with disposable picnic accessories, make sure you search out biodegradable or recyclable options.