Heat waves rippling around the country have us turning on our air conditioners – and worrying about cooling bills. Fortunately, there are ways to beat the summer swelter without breaking the bank. Try one of these summer energy-saving tips to stay cool:

Close the Curtains

It might be nice to let a little sunshine in, but if you’re looking to create cooler temperatures, it’s best to keep your window treatments closed. Solar gain is one of the leading causes of heat, and reflective blinds can reduce solar heat gain by up to 45%.

Consider a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat might be one of the best “green” investments you ever make. By automatically adjusting temperature throughout the day, based on when people are home, you can save significant money on your energy bills.

Avoid Heat-Generating Activities

Several of our home’s appliances generate a lot of heat, so avoid housework during the hottest times of day. Instead of baking, consider preparing food in the microwave or on an outdoor grill. Hand wash dishes or wait to run the dishwasher until nightfall. Finally, hang your clothes to dry in the sun, rather than using your gas or electric dryer. This will not only reduce the amount of heat in your home, it will save on your utility bills.

Cooling your home doesn’t have to cost your entire life savings. By making simple changes, you can cut extra costs that lead to big savings over time. For more cost-cutting ideas, check out these suggestions from the U.S. Department of Energy.