Most of us know the feeling.  As the heat rises, so does the energy bill.  We don’t want to pay the higher costs of a comfortable home, but we don’t want to suffer through a summer of sticky furniture and stinky kids either.  We get it; you want to have you air conditioner and use it too.  We don’t blame you.  So, we’ve put together a handy list of 7 tips to keep your utility bill reasonable this summer.  Here’s to a summer filled with cool, blissful living rooms, your mom would be so proud.

1. Maintain your system.  Having your air conditioner tuned up annually can increase your system’s efficiency by up to 20%. A licensed technician will clean the condenser, check the level of refrigerant and make sure the airflow over the coils is optimal.

2. Check your ducts.  Most people don’t realize that up to 30% of the cooled air in their homes is leaking into walls and ceilings through unsealed or misaligned ducts.  If you have noticed your home isn’t cooling as quickly as it used to, you could benefit from having an inspection done.

3. Clean or change your filters.  One of the simplest and inexpensive ways to maintain your air conditioner, prevent costly repairs, and help your system perform more efficiently is changing your air filter.  Air cannot flow well through a dirty, obstructed filter.  Change your system on the same date every month and keep a spare to remind you.

4. Ensure that your return vents in your home are open and unobstructed.  Don’t waste the cool air that you do have.  You would be surprised how often homeowners unknowingly place furniture over a vent on the floor.

5. Use your ceiling fans…correctly.  A ceiling fan won’t lower the actual temperature of your home, but it will make the room you are in feel cooler.  Make sure your fan turns counterclockwise in the summer, and you will be able to raise your thermostat a degree or two.  Just make sure to turn it off when you leave the room.

6. Install a programmable thermostat that you can set to adjust to higher temperatures when you are away.  Setting your thermostat around your daily schedule is a way to guarantee that you remember to adjust it to minimize the amount of energy you consume.  You can save money and fossil fuels at the same time.

7. Double check you have adequate insulation between the attic and your living space.  You lose cool air through inadequately insulated ceilings and walls.  Simply add more if you need it.

8. Finally, keep the heat you use and invite into your home to a minimum.  Perhaps the easiest way to cool your home is to avoid heating it.  Keep your curtains drawn during the day, and only use heat producing appliances such as dishwashers and ovens at night