Why is my bill so high this summer?

During these long summer days, who doesn’t find themselves wanting to turn the thermostat down just one more degree? June kicked off the summer with above-average temperatures for Louisiana and 17 other states, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. We all know what that means: we’re spending more money keeping our homes cool and comfortable this summer.

With above-average temperatures, homes are requiring two to three times as much energy for cooling than during the same period last year. For people who are keeping their same routine, and even those who are increasing the temperature on their thermostats, air conditioning systems are running longer – and therefore using more energy – to maintain cooler temperatures inside homes. In mild seasons, your cooling unit may have to run only six hours a day; however, when temperatures are high, it may be running as much eight to 12 hours.

To combat the severe heat we’ve all experienced lately, there are a few low- or no-cost actions you can take to reduce your electric bill:

  • Avoid heavy housework between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., when temperatures are the highest. Save cleaning dishes, using the oven and washing laundry for cooler parts of the day. These appliances create heat and moisture that put an extra strain on your air conditioner.
  • Clean or change the air filters in your A/C unit. Dirty filters cause the equipment to work harder, using up to five percent more energy than a clean filter. A good rule of thumb is to check your filter each time you pay your electricity bill.
  • Keep direct sunlight out of your home as much as possible. Close curtains, shades and blinds to hold down the temperature inside the home.
  • Use fans to circulate the air when you’re in the room. The breeze makes the air feel cooler that it is. Fans are a low-cost way to feel cooler because they only cost $1-2 a month to operate.
  • Upgrade or install insulation to reduce cooling costs by as much as 20 percent.
  • Raise your thermostat’s temperature a degree or two, if you can. Each degree will save you about seven percent on your cooling costs.
  • Inspect, repair or implement weatherstripping around doors and windows to prevent expensive air leaks. Cumulatively, all of the leaks in your house add up to the equivalent of leaving a window open and air conditioning the neighborhood.
  • Switch to LED light bulbs, which use 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and last 25 times longer, allowing you to spend years without climbing a ladder to change a bulb. They also emit less heat, keeping your home a bit cooler.
  • Eliminate unexpected high bills by signing up for SWEPCO’s Average Monthly Payment (AMP) plan, which is free for those who qualify. You pay an amount each month based on your average monthly electrical usage. That way, you spread the costs of cooling over the whole year, making budgeting easier, especially on a fixed income.

With a look beyond summer and into winter, you will also find that many of these tips will keep your home warm and cozy in the winter because they help stabilize the climate inside your home, regardless of extreme temperatures.

For more tips, visit http://SWEPCO.com/save to find more ways to save energy year-round.

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