Summer on the southern plains calls up images of bright, sunny days and pleasant evenings. Air conditioning completes that pretty picture for most people.

Home cooling can account for half or more of a summertime electric bill, and the best way customers can keep that bill from climbing too high is to practice some basic conservation and efficiency habits that help us maintain household comfort without stressing our budgets.

Xcel Energy offered the following tips for saving money and energy at its website.

Among the simplest of the energy-saving measures are:

  • Raise the thermostat setting from 72 to 78 degrees, providing a savings of up to $100 over the course of the summer.
  • Turn off unnecessary lighting and replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or LEDs, which use 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and last longer.
  • Run washing machines, dishwashers and clothes dryers with full loads after the heat of the day.
  • Change air conditioning filters.
  • Use ceiling fans to help cool the home.
  • Use a whole-house or attic fan to draw in cool nighttime air and push out hot air during the day.