Summer is finally here, and for many of us, that means vacations, trips to the beach, and backyard barbecues. However, with summer also comes higher energy bills. With temperatures on the rise in the summer months, maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your home often comes at a price. After all, air conditioning isn’t cheap.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways you can cut down on your energy usage this summer and trim down on your cooling costs without having to suffer through uncomfortably hot days and nights in your home.

In fact, if you begin making your preparations now, you’ll be able to start the summer off saving a few hundred dollars. Here are seven energy-efficient solutions to reducing your energy costs in the summer months:

1. Give Your AC a Checkup

One of the first and most important things you should do before summer kicks it into high gear is to give your air conditioner a thorough checkup to make sure it’s functioning as optimally as it should. Simply cleaning a clogged filter in your AC unit can save up to fifteen percent in energy usage and will help it work better so it won’t break down. However, if your A/C is more than 10 years old, it could be time to replace it with something new.

2. Use Ceiling Fans

You may not realize this, but ceiling fans can work wonders for keeping a room cool without having to rely so much on your A/C unit. While they don’t actually cool the temperature of a room, ceiling fans can make it feel cooler simply by moving the air around. This cooler air evaporates the perspiration on our skin, creating the wind chill effect that makes a room feel cooler without changing its actual temperature.

Ceiling fans use considerably less energy than A/C systems do and, when used in conjunction with each other, they can help increase comfort and save energy costs. With both your ceiling fans and A/C running at the same time, you’ll be able to increase the thermostat by a few degrees without sacrificing on your comfort. In turn, your A/C will run less frequently, lowering your energy costs overall. Make sure to set your ceiling fan blades to counterclockwise so that they push cooler air down to the floor.

3. Add Window Treatments

Your air conditioning system works hardest in rooms with windows where the sun is allowed to shine in, creating a greenhouse effect that makes rooms warm and uncomfortable. A simple solution is to install window blinds or shades if you don’t already have them hanging in your home.

There are a variety of options for you to choose from, including room-darkening window treatments that can help reduce some of the light and warmth that gets into your home. If you’re really trying to save on cash, consider purchasing budget-friendly window coverings. To get the most energy savings out of your window treatments, make sure you keep them closed when the sun is at its warmest—usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

4. Unplug Electronics

Most people don’t realize how much energy they’re using simply by keeping appliances and electronics plugged in while they’re not being used. Television sets, DVD players, computers, and anything with a clock or light that stays on when the device is powered off can drain power and waste energy. This doesn’t mean you have to go around your home plugging and unplugging all of your electrical devices all the time. Instead, you can plug your electronics into surge protectors or use outlets that connect to wall switches. This way, when these are turned off, there’s no power to drain.

5. Add Insulation

You know that insulation can help keep your home warm during the cold winter months, but did you know that it can also keep your home cool in the summertime as well? Most people don’t realize that insulation can help reduce the heat gain that is absorbed through the surfaces of their home, preventing the warmth from the outdoors from entering through the roof, attic, walls, and floors.

By ensuring that your home is properly insulated, you can block warm air from getting in and cool air from escaping when it’s hot out, so you won’t need to crank your A/C unit up just to maintain a comfortable temperature inside.

6. Load the Washing Machine

Whether your dishwasher and washing machine are full or not, they’re still using the same amount of water and energy when they’re running. When washing clothes or running the dishwasher, use full loads so you get a lot more for your money—and run the machines less often. Another tip for using your washing machine and dishwasher more efficiently and cut costs is to avoid using hot water whenever possible. Did you know that a large percentage of the energy used by your washing machine goes toward heating the water? You can save a tremendous amount of energy simply by doing your laundry on either the cold or warm cycle.

For added energy savings, taking advantage of the warm weather and dry your clothes outdoors instead of putting them through the dryer. By doing this, you’ll save energy, cut costs, and help prevent raising the temperature inside your home through heat-generating appliances.

7. Tint Your Windows

You’ve heard of tinting your car windows to block out the sun and keep the inside of your car cooler, but did you know you can do this with the windows in your home, too? Adding a window tint (also known as a window film) can help you save a ton of money and stay cooler at the same time. Often applied to the interior windows, window tints can help block ultraviolet light from entering your home, allowing you to better control the temperature inside and improve your home’s energy efficiency.

This article was originally published in July 2019 and has since been updated.