Did you know as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling? As the warmer months approach, you can take these steps to help reduce your utility bill this summer:

1. Get your HVAC system tuned up now.

Just as your car needs regular maintenance to run smoothly, you can help ensure your HVAC unit is in peak condition by scheduling an inspection. Do it now, before you switch on the A/C on a warm day and find that it’s not working properly.

2. Check your air filter.

Set a reminder on your calendar every month, especially during the summer, to inspect your air filter. If it’s dirty, you should change it. Leaving in a dirty filter makes your HVAC system work harder to circulate the air. And that means higher utility costs.

3. Use ceiling fans only when you’re home.

In fact, turn them off unless you’re in the same room. A fan doesn’t actually cool the air; it blows air across your skin, which makes you feel cooler.

4. Keep heat-producing appliances away from the thermostat.

The heat from a nearby TV or lamp will cause the thermostat to read an artificially high temperature, which causes the cooling system to activate unnecessarily.

5. Install a new, high-efficiency air conditioner.

Replacing outdated HVAC equipment with a new, energy efficient model can make a big difference. Look for a model with a high “seasonal energy efficiency ratio” (SEER). It’s also important that the new unit is installed properly to ensure the best performance. If you take these steps, you’ll be on your way to lowering your energy usage and saving money on your utility bill. Stay cool this summer!