(WKBN) — As we approach the hot summer months, most people will have one thing on their mind — beating the heat without breaking the bank. An expert shared simple steps you can take to stay cool and conserve energy, without driving up your electricity bill.

As the heat goes up, air conditioners go on.

“First warm day here it’s helter-skelter, everybody’s going crazy, and we just get so backlogged on air conditioning checks,” said Gene Clayton with Clayton Heating and Air Conditioning Company.

Clayton said regular maintenance is crucial. He suggests having an appointment set up at least once a year to have your air conditioning unit serviced.

“Out of sight, out of mind. No one realizes that the air conditioning unit is a part of their life until it breaks,” said Clayton.

Clayton said cleaning the coil is especially important.

“From grass clipping to dust and debris, that stuff should be washed out once a year,” said Clayton.

Clayton also said changing out equipment is a very expensive deal today so it’s better to be proactive.

“We’re talking about thousands of dollars today. Our price increases are coming in monthly,” said Clayton.

It’s a lot harder to cool a house than it is to heat a house.

“When you’re setting temperatures on air conditioning, and people are walking out and dropping their temperature down 15, 20 degrees, it takes a long time to bring the air conditioning back,” said Clayton.

Clayton recommends instead of turning it down 10 or 15 degrees, turn it down two to four degrees so there’s not a big catch-up on the cooling side, and keep in mind — turning on your air conditioning won’t provide instant relief.

“It takes 12 to 24 hours to break down cooling in a house so when someone turns on an air conditioner they’re not going to get instant cooling,” said Clayton.

But by keeping your house closed up and drawing your curtains and shades from the hot summer sun, your air conditioning unit won’t have to work in overtime to keep your space cool.