The dog days of summer have arrived, and your home’s air conditioner is getting a workout. How do you stay cool and not break the bank when the bill comes due? Help your cooling system help you.

Install a Programmable Thermostat — Programmable thermostats allow homeowners to set temperature needs based on their schedules. No more cooling an empty house unless you request it!

Check for LeaksSeal up any gaps or cracks. Caulk around windows and add weather stripping around doors to prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from seeping in.

Change Your Lightbulbs — If you are still using energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs, you should change them out. Incandescents produce heat, and heat during the summer leads to more energy usage. Switch to LED lights, which produce little to no heat and can last up to 50,000 hours.

Use Fans — In the summer, change ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise. You should feel a breeze when standing under the fan, and this airflow will make you feel cooler thanks to the wind chill effect.

Inspect the Ductwork — Ensure your home’s ductwork is efficient. It’s worth talking to a professional to have the ducts cleaned and inspected for leaks. Cool air escaping into a hot attic is the perfect example of inefficiency.

Change Air Filters — Change air filters regularly. Dirty filters make your HVAC system work harder than necessary, which increases energy consumption.

Close the Drapes — Natural light is nice, but open shades or drapes invite the heat in too. Close window coverings during the day for a cooler house.

Consider a New HVAC System — If you own an older cooling system, it may be worthwhile to consider a replacement. New models are more efficient and can help you save on utility bills. Plus you may be able to get a rebate from your local government to help with the cost.