As you feel thetempatures climbas summer progress, chances are you'll see your electric bill increase, as well.

Here areAustin Energy'stips to reduce electricity use with simple, free, low-cost energy savers.

Saving energy during the hottest part of the summer is easy and free or costs very little money. Every kilowatt-hour saved, about 10 cents on average, means more money in your pocket. Here are some simple tips to reduce your electricity use.

  1. Thermostat. Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher. For every degree that you make your air conditioner cooler, you increase your bill by 3% to 4%. Program your thermostat to 83 degrees when you re away and for it to start cooling back to 78 an hour before you arrive home. You can get a free programmable thermostat when you sign up for Austin Energy s Free Thermostat Program by calling 877-549-2774.

  2. Water heater. Next to air conditioning, the water heater and refrigerator/freezer are the biggest energy users in a home. Water heaters should be set to no hotter than 120 degrees. Test it by placing a thermometer under hot running water. For electric water heaters, the setting can be adjusted in the control located behind the panel at the bottom of the heater. The right setting can save up to $45 a year in energy costs.

  3. Refrigerator/freezer. The temperature in your refrigerator should be no more than 36 to 38 degrees and the freezer 0 to 5 degrees. Place a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and check the reading as soon as you open the door. Refrigerators set 10 degrees lower than recommended can increase energy use by as much as 25%. Also, gently vacuum off the refrigerator s condenser coils about every three months to avoid excessive dust build up which causes the refrigerator to work harder.

  4. Food. Let food cool before placing in the refrigerator unless the recipe specifies otherwise to keep the refrigerator from working harder. Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator to help cool the refrigerator as the food thaws.

  5. Lights. Turn off lights when leaving a room even for a short time. Lighting accounts for about 10% of electricity use.

  6. CFLs. Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 70% less electricity, emit 90% less heat and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. The lower heat means air conditioners need to work less to cool the home. On average, a CFL will save about $50 in electricity over its life.

  7. Air filters. Clean or replace air filters at least once a month. Dirty filters make the air conditioner work harder. Buy pleated filters that catch more dust and allergens.

  8. Clothes dryer. Dry and wash clothes in the morning or night hours to avoid bringing heat into the home during the hottest parts of the day. Dry loads of clothes back to back to take advantage of the heat built up in the dryer. Clean the lint filter after every load so the dryer runs more efficiently. Close the door to the dryer room to avoid heating up the home.

  9. Use power strips. Use power strips to turn off appliances that continue to draw electricity in standby mode even when off such as TVs, DVD players and computers. Standby power can account for 10 to 15 watts per device and can make up as much as 10% of a home s electricity use.

  10. Fans. Use fans in combination with your air conditioning. Fans blowing directly on you can make the temperature around you feel up to 4 degrees cooler. Turn fans off when you are not in the room.