There’s no way around it, summer is hot, hot, hot in Georgia. How can we stay cool this summer? Or better yet, how can we stay cool this summer without breaking a record high on our electric bill?

Here are 10 free or cheap ways you can cool off your house and yourself:

 1. Hold Off On Cooking — Any time you turn on your stove or oven while your air conditioner is running, you’re raising the electric bill. Using the microwave to heat up meals will save you time and money. Also, try eating cold meals you don’t have to cook.

2. Close the Blinds — Close the blinds or curtains in the rooms that get the most sunlight and rooms that you are not using. The heat from the sun radiates through the windows, adding heat to your house and making your air conditioner run longer. The curtains and blinds act as a barrier to keep the heat out, reducing your electric bill.

3. Stock Your Fridge — Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to stay cool.

4. Turn Off the Lights — Turn off the lights during the day and use natural sunlight whenever possible. Keeping the lights turned off will also reduce the amount of heat added to your house so your air conditioner doesn’t have to run as long.

5. Raise Your Thermostat — It sounds crazy but it’s recommended that you set your thermostat at 78 degrees during the summer. This is a pleasant temperature, but isn’t necessarily the cheapest setting. If you can handle it, raise your thermostat by one or two degrees and save about six to seven percent for each degree above 78.

6. Air Dry Your Dishes — Wait until your dishwasher is full before you press start. Also, instead of using the dishwasher’s drying cycle, air dry your dishes. Run the dishwasher at night instead of in the heat of the day. You’ll save your cool air and your money.

7. Do Laundry at Night  — Your dryer is a huge heat source, as you might imagine. Much of that heat will be vented outside, but some will still leak into your house. The later you wait to turn it on, the better chance you have of not working against your air conditioner as much. If possible, try to air dry your laundry by hanging it up outside or inside.

8. Plant Trees — When planting trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, be sure to not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity.

9. Turn On the Fans — Constant air flow in your home will make it cooler and bearable when turning up the thermostat. Also, turn on the exhaust fan in your bathroom when taking a hot shower. This removes much of the humid air produced by the shower.

10. Be Aware — Know where your heat is coming from. Don’t put lamps, televisions, or other heat-generating appliances next to your air-conditioning thermostat because the heat from those appliances will cause the air conditioner to run longer. The heat they produce will make it think your house is warmer than it really is, and your system will run harder than it needs to.

These tips can be useful when on a tight budget or when you’re sick of the heat.