So far this summer, the southern states have already endured some sweltering heat. According to weather experts, temperatures are expected to remain above average all summer long in 2016. When it comes to keeping cool indoors, higher temperatures outside can mean more strain on your air conditioning system. Here are some things you should keep in mind when setting your thermostat this season.

Balancing Energy Use & Comfort

The harder your HVAC system works to cool your home, the higher your utility costs will be in the summer. While Energy Star recommends setting your AC no lower than 78 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy, some people may want to keep a cooler home. Just remember, for each degree you lower your thermostat, more energy is being used and your energy costs increase.

One method for finding the best temperature for your home in the summer is to start with the temperature you are most comfortable with, and gradually increase it by one degree at a time. For each degree you increase the thermostat in your home, give your AC system time to adjust the temperature and give yourself time to judge how comfortable you are. If you find you’re still comfortable after increasing the temperature one degree, then try increasing it another. Do this until you find the temperature setting that makes you uncomfortable, and you’ll get an idea of where to leave your thermostat settings this summer.

Increase the Temperature Setting While You’re Away

Whether you have a programmable thermostat or not, planning to raise the temperature by several degrees before you leave for the workday can help save energy and lower your bill. If your home will be empty for several hours during the day, you can turn up the temperature while you’re away and give your cooling system a break. If you have pets, be sure to keep the house at a comfortable temperature for them.

Keep Cool on the Hottest Days

If you want to conserve energy but stay as cool as you can, why not try some other methods for beating the heat inside this summer? Try turning on a ceiling fan when you’re in a certain room, because the air flow can help make it feel cooler inside. Wearing loose-fitting and lightweight clothing can also help your body regulate temperature more efficiently. And make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, as dehydration can also impact your ability to cool down.

Be Kind to Your HVAC Unit

Of course, regular HVAC maintenance can help ensure your heating and cooling systems performs at peak levels during the hot summer months. An HVAC company can make sure the system is running efficiently and is ready to work well in every season.