ORLANDO, Fla. — It's the time of year when we are fighting the battle between staying cool and staying on a budget.

  • Here are tips to keep your home cool, bills low during summer
  • Each degree you change on thermostat can change your bill by 7-8%
  • Duke Energy offers free home energy checks

Here are some great Insider tips on how to stay comfortable without breaking the bank.

1. When not at home, keep your thermostat higher so that the AC isn't running and cooling an empty home. Orlando Utilities Commission suggests 78 degrees or higher. Each degree you raise or lower the thermostat temperature to increases or decreases your bill by about 7 to 8 percent.

2. When it's going to be really hot, 95 degrees or higher, close your blinds to keep the heat out. It will make a big difference.

3. Have you ever noticed the little switch near the top of the ceiling fan and wondered what it does? It turns the ceiling fan in a different direction.

During the summer, you should have your ceiling fan turning counter-clockwise. That causes a cooling, wind chill effect on the skin. OUC suggests turning it off when you're not in the room, since it really only cools you, not the room.

During the winter, flip the switch to circulate the warm air around you.

4. If you're buying or have just bought a house and the AC system is old, OUC can offer you a rebate. In some cases, that can add up.

"If you replace both the indoor and outdoor portions of the AC system, you can apply for a rebate with OUC, which is a credit on your bill. Those rebates range anywhere from $100 all the way up to $1,600," said David Mayer, the Supervisor of Sustainability for OUC.

5. Duke Energy offers home energy checks. Call your energy provider and see whether they do the same thing.

6. Replace your AC filter regularly. They vary in price, depending on what you want to get. The clean filters allow the AC to run more efficiently, therefore saving you money.

7. Florida Power and Light has a neat tool that allows you to estimate the usage of each appliance and see how much it's costing you. Here's the link to get to that.

If you have any tips or tricks that make your life easier in Central Florida, and you want to share them, head to mynews13.com/insider and fill out the form toward the bottom. Your idea could be used for a future segment.