That's right–it's summertime, and your utility bill is about to go from a harmless piece of paper to a money-sucking scavenger. If your seasonal electric bill is terrorizing you, then do yourself a favor and check out these eight steps to keep your cool while saving money.

1. Charge your cell phones in the car while driving.

I used to leave my phone sitting on the charger overnight, but I realized that shortens the battery life and uses more juice than needed. Now I power up while I'm on the go and conserve that extra energy.

2. Reduce the brightness on your HDTV.

The factory settings on your HDTV are adjusted to provide the best in-store viewing experience. Once you get your TV home, you can reduce the brightness and other settings to slow your energy usage. Odds are, you won't even notice the difference in the picture quality. (See: 5 Tips to Increase the Longevity of Your LED TV)

3. Run the fan on your A/C to circulate cool air.

My husband is an electrician and A/C man, and he recommends turning on the A/C fan to circulate the cool air already in your home instead of turning down the thermostat. Run the fan about an hour, and then go back to regular cooling.

4. Cook as many meals on your grill as possible.

No one is ever mad about grilled food. You use less electricity and your house stays cooler without the oven cranking—plus, there are fewer dishes to wash, and you use less hot water too.

Related: 8 Tips for Showering in a Drought That Might Ruin Your Day

5. Wash clothes with cold water and in non-peak hours.

I wash my whites in hot water once in awhile, but everything else gets the cold water treatment. If you're a night owl or early bird, you can also do your washing in non-peak times to pay less for your electricity.

6. Perform maintenance on your cooling system.

Changing your air filters as often as recommended by your service manual and keeping A/C return vents clear and open to allow air to circulate fully through your home will keep your A/C running efficiently this summer.

7. Tint your home windows to save on electricity.

 

My front door has a glass window, and when the afternoon sun shines through it, it really heats up my house. Someone recently tipped me off to home window tinting. SnapTint offers solar protection films you can apply directly to your windows for as low as $2.15 per square foot. Plus, you can order a sample first to test the look and see if it limits sunlight.

8. Use a clothesline, combine dryer loads, or time your dryer to stop.

Consider alternatives to using a dryer. They’re great time-saving appliances, but they heat up your house and keep your A/C running, which is counter-productive.

Related: Laundry: The Never-Ending Story