By Robin Marsh, NEWS 9

As summer heats up, electricity bills begin to skyrocket.

Here a few practical tips from About.com on how to save on your bills.

Keep up with maintenance
Replace the filter monthly during the cooling season and have a professional service your system at the beginning of each cooling season.

Install a programmable thermostat
The thermostats allow you to vary the temperature according to when you're home. Set it to 78 degrees when you're home. 85 degrees if you are going to be out a few hours.

Keep condensers in shape
Make sure your air conditioning condenser is located in a shady spot and has room to dispose of the heated air it removes from your house. Don't crowd it with shrubs or anything else.

Get some shade
Plant shade trees and shrubs around your house to help reduce the heat of the sun, especially on the west and south sides. This can reduce your cooling costs by up to 30 percent. Other ideas Close drapes on the sunny side of your house. Install awnings on the windows on the sunny side of your house.         

Run your ceiling fans
If it's hot enough to require air conditioning, using the ceiling fans at the same time allows you to raise the temperature setting by five degrees, which will reduce your costs.

Use bright paint colors
The darker the color of your house, the more heat it will absorb. So if you're building, buying, or considering repainting, choose lighter colors for the exterior.

Check the attic
Thirty percent of the heat in your house is absorbed through the roof. Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. Vents in the eaves allow cooler air to enter. A ridge vent or an attic fan can significantly reduce your cooling costs.