Summer is coming, and for you, that may mean high utility bills. High bills can be a problem in any situation, but they’re particularly dangerous when you’re facing a cash emergency. Medical bills, court fines and home appliance breakdowns can all happen suddenly, leaving you struggling to handle the costs of your utilities.

If you need relief from utility bills, you should attack the problem from both sides. Find ways to cut your utility bills, and find other ways to increase your cash flow in the short term. Here are some of the best ways to do both.

Option One: Save Money on Utility Bills

With a few habits, you can make utility bills more manageable during any time of year. The following tips can help you save money on electricity or gas services.

Shut off all non-vital lights

Begin making a habit of turning off lights as soon as you leave the room. Empty rooms don’t need to be drawing electricity. To make sure that everyone in your family participates. Remove light bulbs in rooms that have natural light.

Open windows for better circulation

Few items in the home use more electricity than the air conditioner, and it is often running for hours at a time, even at night when you are asleep. If you can handle a little more heat while you’re navigating an emergency, try to turn off the air conditioner and start using opening your windows to circulate air in your home.

When there are many windows open, especially on opposite sides of the house, the air will be moved more effectively and provide comfort during hot summers. If you can find excuses to leave your home more often during the day, you can enjoy the air conditioning in stores and community centers while keeping it turned off at home.

Get your family to chip in

The real trick to making this strategy pay off is getting the rest of your family to participate. You may not want to share the fact that you’re having difficulties with your children, but if you do, it can help them to understand that these habits are about the safety of the whole family.

Now that you understand how to reduce your bills, it’s time to consider how to get more cash.

Option Two: Getting Help During Emergencies

Not all bills can be reduced. If you have elderly or tiny children in your home, there’s a limit to how often you can turn off the air conditioning. If you need emergency cash, you can use the items you already own or apply for assistance.

Explore Your Options for Short-term Cash

By selling your property, or using it as collateral, you may be able to get the cash you need in the short term.

Sell items you don’t need

Sell items that you don’t use anymore or don’t need as much as you need fast cash. Check your garage, shed or storage units to find items that you can sell. Hold a garage sale or take them directly to a pawn shop to find out if you can walk out with cash in minutes.

Secure an emergency loan

If you don’t have items that you can sell directly, you may be able to use larger items like your vehicle or home to secure some emergency cash. If you’re concerned about taking on more debt, remember that you never have to choose to borrow as much as the item is worth. You can choose to take a smaller amount that will have a lower interest rate when you need it.

Check Your Eligibility for Assistance Programs

The Low-Income Home Energy Assitance Program is a federal assistance program that exists to help those who qualify with their home heating and cooling costs. The money is available as a grant, which means you will be provided with cash if you are eligible.

In addition to utility bill relief, the program also provides grant funds to help you better weatherize your home. If you have high utility bills because your home isn’t capable of retaining heat or air-conditioned air, then you may be able to reduce your utility bills by repairing your home with these funds. You can find the California program information here.

Contact Charities in Your Area

If you are not eligible for federal programs, you may still be able to find local charities in your area that provide cooled shelters during the day, recycled air conditioners with higher efficiency or simply cash. If you are caring for children or the elderly, you should explore every option.