Can you envision this scenario’ Your latest electric bill is twice as high as last month’s statement. And to make matters worse, the local weather bureau has just issued a heat wave alert that will likely require prolonged use of your air conditioning system. If you find yourself in that familiar predicament, don’t panic, suggests the Trane Home Comfort Institute. Here is some advice that will enable you to survive the heat wave while saving energy dollars. Remember to raise the thermostat to the highest temperature setting that will provide the desired cooling, and to leave it there as long as possible. The idea is to keep you comfortable without overtaxing your air conditioning system. If you’re planning to leave your home for more than a few hours, raise the thermostat setting an additional 5 or more degrees. This difference will lighten the load on your air conditioner while ensuring a reasonably comfortable temperature when you return. Consider installing a programmable thermostat that will allow you to raise and lower the temperature up to four times a day depending on your schedule. During a heat wave, it’s also a good idea to let your oscillating and ceiling fans share the task of cooling your home to the extent possible. A gentle breeze from a fan can help evaporate perspiration and make you feel cool at a warmer temperature. Anytime you can obtain a desired level of comfort by combining a central air system with fans, it’s money in the bank. Here are some other tips from the that will help you and your air conditioning system survive the next heat wave: ‘ Clean or replace the air filter once a month. ‘ Cut down or trim back plants growing around the air conditioning unit. The vegetation can cut off the unit’s air supply and cause overheating.