Most people have a moment several times a year when they ask, “Why is my electric bill so high?” The big bill and subsequent big check we must write will often get us motivated to start lowering the bill.

The process of high electric bill troubleshooting is complicated, because there are a lot of things that may be contributing to the size of your electric bill. However, one of the most consistent ones is heating and cooling. If you are trying to figure out how to lower energy bill costs, air conditioning is a very good place to start. Here are ten ways you can lower your summer cooling costs.

1. Manage the Thermostat

You may have joked about your dad’s obsession with the thermostat, but he’s smart. When everyone leaves the house for the day, turn it a few degrees warmer, and then cool it again when the family starts to return home. Programmable thermostats can even be set to do this for you, allowing the system to kick on and have the house comfortable when you get home from work.

2. Let Your Car Cool Off

Cars are a big source of heat. Coming home from your daily commute and pulling your car into the garage can add a lot of heat to the house. Instead of bringing a hot engine in your home, leave the car outside until the engine cools. If you must bring a hot car in due to rain or other factors, at least leave the garage open as long as you can. This can be a very effective strategy in figuring out how to lower energy bill.

3. Use Blackout Blinds

Ordinary blinds do a pretty good job of keeping sun out, but blackout blinds can go even further than that. They aren’t practical for every room in the house, but those that can be totally dark during the day can be fitted with blackout blinds to exclude the maximum sun and help you with your high electric bill troubleshooting.

4. Isolated Unused Spaces

When you asked yourself “Why is my electric bill so high?”, you probably were thinking about the rooms you use and why you have to pay so much to keep them comfortable. What you might have left out are the rooms you use less frequently. Guest bedrooms, formal dining rooms, basement dens, and other spaces that are used less can be isolated from air conditioning by closing their vents and doors (assuming none of the system’s return vents are in the room). An unneeded room doesn’t need to be cooled, so this can be a great find on high electric bill troubleshooting.

5. Fill the Gaps

We think about drafts in the winter, and the cold temps normally seen in northeastern areas like Ohio and New York are enough to have us check things out. But any new gap we find each fall was probably there all summer too, so filling them during warm weather can be a great idea on how to lower energy bill size. Caulk when it’s warm and you’ll be much more successful.

6. Tint Windows

Another option for high electric bill troubleshooting is to tint windows in rooms where intense sun will run up your energy costs. An effective strategy on how to lower energy bill costs is to tint windows in occupied rooms. This will allow you to look outside as needed, and it will permit enough light to enter that you won’t have to use lights during the day. After all, substituting light costs for air conditioning costs will still leave you wondering why is my electric bill so high.

7. Keep Windows & All Doors Closed

Most people like to leave main doors open and rely on storm doors in the summer, but these typically don’t close as tightly or insulate as effectively as the main door. Make an effort to keep both doors shut so that the heat is blocked as thoroughly as possible. As for windows, try not to open them at all when the air is running, and make sure they are closed and latched.

8. Maintain Your System

Sometimes the reason we’re asking “Why is my electric bill so high?” is that the air conditioner is inefficient. Clogged filters, dirty ducts, and worn components can make your unit work harder to maintain adequate cooling. Change your filters as the manufacturer suggests, and get a technician to inspect the system annually.

9. Cool the Kitchen

Sometimes the answer to “Why is my electric bill so high?” is that we are cooking at the wrong time of day. The brief time needed for routine meals is not a problem, but the high temperatures and long time for baking are best for evening hours, when the outdoor temperature is lower and the air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard. Try to do those foods at later hours, when you might even be able to open windows briefly.

10. Adjust Yourself

Sometimes you’re asking “Why is my electric bill so high?” when you should be asking “Why do I keep the house this cool?” You don’t need the same temperature all year. You may be comfortable at 68 degrees in the winter but good at 74 in the summer. Working through those seasonal adjustments will help you lower electric bills in summer as well as heating bills in winter.