With July 4 around the bend, you could be celebrating the holiday and lowering your power bill by conserving electricity.

It doesn’t take much effort to enjoy energy savings. To start, make sure that your cooling and air conditioning (AC) system is in top working order. During summer, the AC is the biggest source of electricity used in most homes, and cooling can account for more than half your power bill. If it’s been awhile since you had your AC serviced, call a heating and air conditioning professional.

These simple tips will save energy while you stay comfortably cool:

Close the blinds to shut out heat and help keep your home cooler. (Getty Images)
  1. Clean or change AC filters regularly. A dirty filter cuts air flow and reduces efficiency.
  2. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or slightly higher, and your monthly savings can range between 3% and 5%. If you’ll be away from home a few days, raise the thermostat a little higher, but not more than 5 degrees.
  3. When buying a new AC unit or heat pump, select one with a higher seasonal energy efficiency rating. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit.
  4. Use ceiling fans to create a “wind chill” effect. Your rooms will stay comfortable even if the thermostat is set a little higher. The key: Set ceiling fans to run counterclockwise, and use them only when you’re in the room. Fans cool people, not spaces.
  5. Encourage your family to keep exterior doors and windows closed. Every time you open a door, the conditioned air escapes and hot air comes in.
  6. Close the blinds, shades and drapes on the sunny side of the house. Light-colored window coverings are best because they help reflect light and reduce heat that’s absorbed into the home.
  7. Save heavy-duty chores such as mopping and running the dishwasher for later in the day. These tasks can add moisture and heat to your home – the same goes for the clothes washer and dryer.
  8. To reduce the moisture load on your AC, open the attic and crawl space vents to promote ventilation and decrease humidity.

For more energy-saving tips, visit www.alabamapower.com. Call the company’s Customer Service Line at 1-800-245-2244 to request a free copy of Alabama Power’s energy efficiency brochure.