Summer officially began on June 21, and temperatures will be hitting triple digits before you know it. A warmer than normal summer is expected for much of the country.

The Better Business BUreau reminds consumers that now it is time to prepare your home for hot temperatures. Utility bills can skyrocket during the summer months, but there are some things you can do to stay cool without breaking the bank. One of the most important, is getting that tune-up from a trustworthy HVAC company.

“It’s a good idea to have a contractor perform an annual check-up,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas, said. “Not only will it help maintain your equipment, it will prevent future problems and avoid unwanted costs.

BBB offers the following tips to keep your home cool, comfortable, and running efficiently in the summer months:

Change your air filter regularly. Check your filter every month. If it looks dirty, change it. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool. This wastes energy and leads to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.

Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly. A yearly tune up of your car can improve your gas mileage. Likewise, a yearly tune up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

A typical maintenance check-up should include the following:

Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.

Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.

Lubricate all moving parts. Parts which lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use.

Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central A/C. A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.

Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to ensure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.

Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.

Check your central A/C’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will cause your system to run less efficiently, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of your equipment.

Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.

BBB also advises consumers to be on the lookout for companies who may advertise “free” air conditioner tune-ups with the intent of charging for unnecessary repair work or equipment sales and reminds consumers to do their homework before selecting a company to inspect their AC unit.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call 903-581-5704 or use BBB Scam Tracker.