Top tips on lowering summer electricity bill


June 16, 2012 at 1:16 a.m.
Updated June 17, 2012 at 1:17 a.m.

From pool parties to the school year's end and possible trips to the beach, there are good things that come with a South Texas summer. But, with the season's rising temperatures often comes rising electric bills.

Luckily, there are easy ways for people to conserve energy and save a bit of green, said Julie Bedsole, who works with Nueces Electric Cooperative's corporate communications department.

"Investing a little bit of money will save people a lot in the long run," she said, noting savings can equal about $358 per year. "It might just be $20 to $25 per bill, but think what you can do with that money."

Here are some tips for keeping energy costs down during those scorching summer months.

Be thoughtful with the thermostat.

Keep the home warmer than usual when you're away, and around the 78 or 80-degree mark when home.

Consider a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set how cool the home will be at different times of the day.

Avoid setting the thermostat lower than normal when turning on the air conditioner. It will not cool the home faster, and could result in heftier bills.

Check the home for basic repairs.

Have proper weather stripping around windows and doors to keep cool air in, and warm air out.

Check the home's insulation, especially in the attic, and make updates if necessary. Also make sure the garage is insulated, since going in and out daily can really warm the home.

Consider energy-efficient windows, which provide insulation and keep warmer air outside.

Have your air conditioner serviced annually to keep things running smoothly.

Mind the appliances.

Avoid using the oven on hot days and remember the microwave uses two-thirds less energy than your stove.

Unplug electronics when not in use. Even when they're off, they still draw out electricity when plugged in.

Wash only full loads of laundry and clothing, and air dry them when possible.

Use fans and natural light to your advantage.

Allowing natural light into the home eliminates the need for indoor lights during the day. When you do need light, use fluorescent bulbs, which are up to 75 percent more efficient and save on bills.

Using a ceiling fan allows you to increase the thermostat setting by about four degrees with no noticeable temperature change.

Turn fans off when you leave the room, since they cool people through a wind chill effect, and not by cooling the room itself.

Ventilation fans in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room can help eliminate extra heat that could otherwise warm the house. Make sure they're ventilated to the outside.

Evaluate your energy plan.

Know what your plan involves, such as price per kilowatt hour, any added benefits, etc.

Don't be afraid to look around at other plans that might better suit your needs.

The website offers people the ability to compare companies, evaluate their options and make educated decisions.

Sources: Julie Bedsole, corporate communications with Nueces Electric Cooperative, Claire Monaghan, spokeswoman with CPL Energy, CPL Retail Energy, Energy Saving Tips guide and the United States Department of Energy website



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