If you want to keep cool in the oppressive summer heat, having an AC system is pretty much mandatory.

However, did you know that cooling costs account for 22.4 percent of an average American family’s electric bill? Over the course of a year, the simple act of cooling your home will set you back about $1,070.

The good news is that you don’t have to resort to turning your AC off to save money. Instead, you can rely on these 5 simple tips to keep the electric bill down.

1. Let the Compressor Breathe

In every AC unit, the compressor is tasked with pulling in outside air. Any restrictions or obstructions will lead to reduced air flow. If this happens, the air conditioner will be forced to work harder to get the air it needs.

Therefore, you should try making the compressor’s job a bit easier. Take a look at your air conditioner — do you see any debris, decks, or shrubs within five feet of it? If so, move them somewhere else.

2. Replace the Air Filter

As you may know, changing air filters helps ensure that your AC unit will work at its peak efficiency.

This is doubly true in the summer since your air conditioner will probably be working overtime. By changing the air filter once a month, you’ll lower your AC unit’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent.

If you have shedding pets in your house, you may want to replace the filter even more often. Same goes for areas with high foot traffic. When you’re trying to keep cool on a hot summer day, every little thing helps

3. Use Register Vents Properly

Many homeowners close off vents to unused rooms, but sometimes this does more harm than good. Closing off too many vents can shut out your AC’s air circulation.

Also, keep in mind that your home insulation is located in exterior walls. If a room gets too warm, those temperatures will be absorbed through the walls.

To avoid this problem, make sure there’s no furniture on top (or in front) of your vents. While you’re at it, check whether the vents could use a cleaning.

4. Get a Programmable Thermostat

Nobody likes coming home to a scorching hot house, but leaving the AC on can wreak havoc on your electric bill. Wouldn’t it be nice to tell your AC to turn on about half an hour before you get home?

As it turns out, that’s perfectly possible. All you need is a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat is a set-and-forget solution for all your AC needs. With a proper preset schedule, these thermostats will help you avoid large swings in temperatures. In the long run, this saves you both money and energy.

5. Service Your AC Annually

Having your air conditioner serviced once a year is the best way to ensure it lasts for a while. With proper maintenance, most air conditioners have a lifespan of approximately 15 to 20 years.

Now, you could learn how to clean your AC unit’s fins and coils yourself. These days, there’s a video tutorial for everything! However, many other common maintenance tasks are best left to an experienced HVAC technician.

More Ways to Keep Cool

As AC units are complicated contraptions, there are many other ways to make them work like you want them to. Want to learn more about what your trusty air conditioner can and can’t do? Take a look at our blog!