Summer brings us long and lazy weekends, bright afternoons and colorful produce at the farmer’s market. But along with the season’s benefits can come some oppressing heat waves that make us crank the air conditioning. If you’re worried about the dog days of summer causing your electric bill to look a little rough, make these simple changes and save cash.

6 Essential Energy Saving Tips:

Change your filters

In summer, we spend weekends away and focus our chores on beautifying the yard. That’s why it’s easy to forget to change our AC filter this time of year. However, you should change your air filter once a month in the summer to avoid debris buildup that could block airflow and cause your system to work overtime.

Shut your drapes or blinds

We like to let in the natural light but doing so can heat up the house. About 76 percent of the sunlight that hits your windows becomes heat, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Shutting blinds and curtains and even adding window awnings or shutters can save you money and cause for a lower utility bill in the long run.

Let your trees and shrubs grow

Don’t get overzealous with your pruner or loppers in the name of having a good view. Vegetation, like shade trees and decorative landscaping, help lower surface and air temperatures around your home and therefore reduce your need for AC, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Learn your climate type and then tailor your landscape for energy efficiency. Landscape for Life has some handy guidelines.

Use fans

If you have central air, you may have forgotten about that fan tucked in storage. Dig it out and place it in the room where you spend the most time. Crank ceiling fans, too. A ceiling fan can make a room feel about 4 degrees cooler, thanks to the wind-chill factor, according to The Simple Dollar. Run bathroom fans when showering or bathing to reduce humidity.

Grill out

You probably don’t need another excuse to fire up the barbecue this summer, but here’s one: Cooking inside can raise the temperature. Skip oven or stovetop cooking and plan meals that can be made mostly outdoors. If indoor cooking is a must, opt for the microwave if possible.

Turn it off when you leave

If you’ve ever wondered whether leaving the AC on all day while you’re gone will save you more money than making it run full force when you come home, you’re not alone. And the answer is no. Your AC works most efficiently doing a sprint when needed rather than slogging through a slower-paced marathon all day.

Get a home energy audit

Energy Star recommends contacting your utility provider to see if it offers free or subsidized energy audits. Or you can hire a certified energy rater on your own. An audit can tell you if you have areas where cold air is escaping and how you can make improvements to fix the issue. Although an audit may cost you cash up front, it could save you hundreds of dollars annually, giving you a lower utility bill and paying for itself in the long-term.