1. Turn it off when you’re not home

Air conditioning systems reach peak efficiency when they operate for long periods. Shutting off the system when you leave in the morning and then turning it on when you return home will use less electricity than the unit would use cycling on and off for short periods to maintain the set temperature” while you’re away.

If the house remains unbearably hot while the unit is working to get to a comfortable temperature, they suggest investing in a programmable thermostat. This way you can set it to start the a/c before you get home.

2. Circulate the air

Fans don’t necessarily cool the air, they circulate it. As the air moves over your skin, it lowers your body temperature, sometimes by as much as 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the folks at Climatic Heating and Cooling in Virginia.

Saving energy (and money) by using ceiling fans involves setting the air conditioner’s thermostat to a higher temperature while the fans are in use and turning off the fans when nobody is in the room.

3. Maintain the a/c system

Even the most energy-efficient air conditioning system won’t lower your cooling costs if it’s not maintained routinely and properly.

A dirty filter, for instance, can cause reduced air flow and the unit will need to work harder to cool the home. The more inefficient the system is, the more power it requires which leads to skyrocketing power bills.

4. They’re called “window coverings” for a reason

An easy way to keep the heat out during a hot summer day is to keep the window coverings drawn over the windows.

The Department of Energy suggests purchasing reflective blinds, because “ . . . when completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent.”

Drapery can block the sun and heat, provided the fabric is closed weave and medium-colored. Buy them with plastic backing and you’ll reduce the amount of heat coming through a window by 33 percent, according to the DOE. They also suggest that you hang your drapes as close to the windows as possible and let them fall onto either the windowsill or the floor.

Reflective films on the glass in your windows are also a brilliant way of blocking summer heat but their effectiveness depends on the size of the window, which direction it’s facing and whether or not the window has interior insulation. The DOE suggests that you will get the most savings by applying the film to west- and east-facing windows.

5. Let Mother Nature lend a helping handStrategically placed trees help conserve energy and reduces energy bills, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. In fact, you’ll save up to 35 percent on your air conditioning costs by planting large trees on the west, east and northwest sides of your home. The Foundation also suggests planting a shade tree over your air-conditioning unit to keep it cool as well (but don’t neglect cleaning up the leaves and other debris that may clog the condenser).