Summer is just around the corner and your energy bill can easily shoot up into the triple digits during the scorching summer months. Use these simple tips to lower the cost of air conditioning in your home while staying cool and comfortable all summer long.

1. Change your Filters Monthly

If you have central air, replacing a dirty filter is the easiest way to keep costs low. Filters keep dirt and dust out of your air conditioning system, and when too much grime accumulates, the system wears down faster and uses more energy to keep you cool. In the summertime, change your filters monthly. Always remember to turn off the power before you attempt to change a filter. If you have a window AC unit, these generally have a filter behind the air grill that you can remove and rinse.

2. Prevent the Sun from Getting In

A surprising amount of heat can enter your home through the windows. Blinds and curtains are the simplest fixes, but most people already have them. If you want additional protection against the hot sun, consider a tinted window film. Not only do they keep the heat out, they don’t interfere with the natural light in your home, and they protect your upholstery from the fading effects of ultraviolet rays.

3. Install a Programmable Thermostat

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, installing one will more than pay for itself in savings on your cooling bills. Raising the temperature several degrees when you go to work for the day or leave for vacation is an easy way to lower the cost of air conditioning. There’s no point in cooling a house excessively when no one is there.

4. Use a Fan Instead

Ceiling and window fans are an excellent alternative to air conditioning when the heat isn’t completely intolerable, and they use far less energy. Airflow can make a big difference in making a room feel cool. Even if you leave the air conditioning on, using a ceiling fan simultaneously can help your AC system work more efficiently by increasing air circulation.

5. Buy a New, Efficient AC Unit

Sometimes the solution is to update your appliance: a 10- to 15-year-old central AC or window unit simply won’t be as efficient as newer models on the market today. Particular for those in hot climates, consider replacing your unit with one that has earned the government’s ENERGY STAR label. A list of energy-efficient units can be found here

6. Regular Service Check-Ups Lower the Cost of Air Conditioning in the Long-Term

Whether your AC unit is brand new or several years old, regular maintenance with a service professional is worth the expense. A professional can spot signs of neglect in an old system and reduce the likelihood of breakdowns, adding years of life to your appliance. A smoothly running system reduces cooling bills, so make sure to schedule professional service every two to three years. If you’re particularly handy with appliances yourself, you can take these small steps from DIY Network to keep the system running well in the years in between service visits.

Inspect One, Inc. provides home inspection services to Coastal North Carolina, including Wilmington and the surrounding beaches. to schedule your inspection today.