A few weeks ago, we gave you a primer on how your air conditioner works, and some tips on maintaining it.

Now, we want to provide you with some tips on how to make your air conditioner work more efficiently, as well as some other things you can do to save on energy and energy bills during the summer.

First, some things you can do to save energy by not making your air conditioner work so hard:

Turn up your thermostat. You want to be comfortable, but you do not have to freeze. Most air conditioning units are designed to operate at no cooler than 75 degrees. You can save 1% to 3% on energy costs for every degree above 72 degrees.
Use attic, ceiling or room fans. These will also keep the house cooler, allow you to keep your thermostat set higher, and thus save wear and tear on your AC unit and lower energy bills.
Seal. Use weather-stripping, sealants, and/or caulk to plug up leaks in doors or windows where hot air can sneak in (this will also prevent cold air from coming in during winter).
Shade. Keep your window shades drawn during the day. This will prevent heat from the sun from raising the temperature in your home.
Insulate your attic. Most people think insulation helps keep out the cold. In fact, insulation traps heat, so insulating your attic keeps the heat from your attic from entering the rest of your house.
Do not place lamps or other heat-generating appliances near your thermostat. The thermostat will sense the heat, which can make your air conditioner work harder.
Now some general tips to save energy in the summer:

Use your microwave instead of your stove. The microwave will use two-thirds less energy than the stove.
Use your dishwasher. Believe it or not, the dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. If you let the dishes air dry, you will save even more.
Keep lots of food in your refrigerator. That prevents it from warming up too fast when the door is open.
Use warm or cold water – not hot water – to do your laundry. Always try to do full loads.
Air dry your clothes if possible. If that is not possible, dry full loads, and clean the lint trap after each use (believe it or not, that is also a fire prevention tip).
Unplug whatever you can when it is not in use, including lights, electronic devices, chargers, etc.