BOISE -- If a long, hot summer has you worried about how much your energy bill will be - don't panic. KTVB talked to a cooling expert to find out how you can save money and still keep your house cool.

In the summer, no one wants there house to feel like an oven. Michael Hunter, the general manager at Jim's Heating and Cooling, says in the summer you should set your thermostat between 75 to 78 degrees.

The lower the temperature the more money you will spend cooling your home.

If no one is at the house raise the temperature a few degrees before you leave. Hunter says if your home is older than 10 years you should not increase the temperature more than three degrees. He says it will take your AC unit too long to cool your house when you come back to make it worth raising the temperature any higher. With newer homes, he says you can increase the temperature five degrees.

Hunter says one of the biggest cost savings tips is to change your air filter every month during the summer. This could save you up to 30 percent on your energy bill because your system will run more efficiently. Changing your air filter regularly can also keep repair costs down.

Generally, we see over $500 in repair costs by people not changing your filters. That is how serious it is, said Hunter.

Hunter says having a professional service your heating and cooling unit can also save homeowners up to 30 percent depending on the age of the system. He recommends the units be serviced once a year.

Professionals check to make sure the system is running efficiently. They also check all the cool air is being pumped to the areas in your home where you want it.

Some people are losing 30-50 percent of their energy through their duct work because it's not sealed, said Hunter. If you loose air through your duct work, a lot of times if it is an unconditioned space like under your home.

According to Energy Star, most homes in the U.S. have air conditioning units that aren't working properly. They estimate that about 7 out of 10 homes are wasting about 22 to 28 percent on their energy every year just because they don't have it serviced, said Hunter.

Cleaning the outdoor unit of your air conditioning system can also save you a few bucks. If plant material or anything else is blocking airflow your system will have to work harder to circulate air. Hunter says you should check your unit about once a week and every time you mow your lawn.

The biggest culprit for clogging AC units in the Treasure Valley is cottonwood trees.

Keep your blinds shut and turn off all the lights in your home when you leave to help keep the temperature from rising throughout the day. If you can keep the temperature inside from rising your air conditioner won't have to work as hard.

If you try all these tips and your bill is still high, Hunter says you may want to look into increasing your home's insulation or replacing your windows to keep the cool air from escaping. He replaced the windows in his family's home and saved $100 a month during the summer.

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