Trying to stay cool without breaking your power bill record can be a real challenge. Almost two-thirds of the summertime electric bill goes toward staying cool and comfortable, according to Edison Electric Institute, the national association of electric utility companies.
Fortunately, consumers have many simple, no- and low-cost steps they can take to stay cool and save money all summer long.
First, keep the thermostat at 78 degrees when the house is occupied, and at 85 degrees when vacant. (Save 1 – 2 percent on cooling costs for each degree you can raise the thermostat setting). A programmable or “set-back” thermostat, available for under $50 from your local hardware or home center, can make these changes automatically.
If you have ceiling fans, be sure to turn them on which allows you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees and still feel cool. Make sure they turn counterclockwise. (You should feel a cool breeze standing directly under the fan).
Close the curtains or shades on any windows facing south or west during afternoon hours and save 2 – 4 percent on cooling costs.
Contact your electric utility to see if you qualify for assistance that can include: cash rebates on energy-efficient appliances and bill discounts for lowering demand during peak periods.
More electric utilities are also using a high-tech tool, the “smart” electric meter, to help them and their customers get more value from their electricity bill. Almost one-in-three homes now have a digital meter, up from one-in-four last September.
The new smart meters are already benefiting consumers. For example, if a home equipped with a smart meter loses power, the utility is instantly alerted. The consumer doesn’t have to call to report a power outage, a big benefit if you are away on vacation.