Summertime is right around the corner, and the Mechanical Contractors Association has recently released its recommendations for helping reduce your office energy bills during the hot months.

Here are several suggestions:

Check insulations levels. Insulation keeps the heat out during the summer months, so be sure that attics, crawl spaces, floors, exterior and basement walls are properly insulated.

Check for drafts. Holes and cracks around doors, windows, switches, and outlets, and in ceilings and walls, can let summer heat leak in. Caulk or use weather stripping to combat the problem.

Close those shutters! The U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates 40% of unwanted heat enters buildings through windows. Use shutters, awnings, curtains and shades to keep the sun out.

Buy energy efficient appliances and office equipment. If you're replacing equipment this summer, be sure to compare energy consumption before you purchase.

Turn off the lights. (It's not true that turning lights on and off eats up more energy.) And turn off office equipment when during non-business hours. Leave minimal lighting on during non-business hours for safety.

Keep thermostats at 78 degrees. And install programmable thermostats that will adjust the temperature automatically.

Inspect and clean air conditioner's indoor and outdoor coils. And have a qualified contractor check refrigerant levels.