It’s that time of year again. The days are longer, the sun is brighter, the temperature rises, and your electricity bills skyrocket. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways you can keep your utility bills low while still staying cool. Check out these 10 ways to cool your home efficiently.

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Keep your A/C in good shape

That big ol’ electric bill? Thank your air conditioner—it typically makes up the biggest chunk of the charges. One of the simplest things you can do is make sure your A/C is properly maintained so it can run as efficiently as possible. Change the filter regularly and check it monthly, even if the manufacturer recommends doing it less frequently. You’ll be glad you did, because this can decrease your AC unit’s energy use by 5 to 15%. 

You can also schedule yearly or twice-yearly maintenance with an HVAC professional to clean your systems and make sure everything is running smoothly.

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Install energy-efficient systems

You’ll see an immediate difference in your electric bill if you replace your old A/C unit with a brand-new, energy-efficient model—up to 40% according to Energy.gov. If you’ve been making frequent repairs on it or your energy bills are increasing, it may be time to replace your cooling system.

Turn on those fans

Ceiling fans help circulate air, and while you’re underneath the temperature of the room can feel a few degrees cooler. They should run counter-clockwise when it’s hot out and clockwise when it’s cold. Don’t have ceiling fans? Buy an oscillating portable fan and aim it in your direction. Just remember to turn it off when you leave the room.

When you shower, turn on your bathroom fan to help remove heat and humidity—just make sure the fan is actually vented to the outside of your home.

Check your ducts

Leaky air ducts or ducts that have been chewed on by critters mean some of your cool air isn’t actually being delivered to where it’s supposed to. Sealed ducts combined with proper attic insulation can significantly improve the cooling efficiency in your home.

Seal up cracks

The last thing you want is hot outside air coming in through windows and doors, so check your home for gaps and cracks and seal them up with caulk and weather stripping. Air can enter and escape through tiny spaces like outlets, so don’t forget to check those, too.

Drapes and blinds are your friends

East- and west-facing windows are at risk for high heat gain, which can fade furniture, rugs, and artwork. Installing curtains and blinds and keeping them shut during peak sunlight when it’s hot out will help.

Set a programmable thermostat

There’s no use cooling an empty house, so set a programmable thermostat to automatically drop the temperature when you’re home and raise it when you leave. Experts recommend raising the temperature 7 degrees higher when you leave—any higher and it’ll take a tremendous amount of energy to get the temperature back down to where you’d like it to be, which they also recommend to be between 78 and 80 degrees in warm weather.

Install solar screens and film on your windows

Unless you have energy-efficient windows installed that already have a special coating to shield your home from UV rays, consider installing solar screens or film on your windows.

Keep the area around your thermostat clear

A television, lamp, or any other heat-producing object placed too close to your thermostat could give it a false reading. This will cause your air conditioner to cool more than it needs to, so make sure the area around your thermostat is clear.

Keep the area around your A/C unit clear

Just as you want to keep the area around your thermostat clear, make sure your A/C unit isn’t baking in intense direct sunlight and that there’s proper airflow around it.