Try to beat the heat with these summer tips

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One thing that no one can deny: it’s definitely summertime. The dog days of summer inevitably show the true might of the sun. It’s hot out there. While that heat might have you reaching for the air conditioner, it’s important to know how that relates to your utility bill.

June saw another hotter than normal days, with temperatures frequently exceeding 100 degrees. That resulted in all-time load peak June 21 with customer demand reaching 307.9 megawatts (MW). That’s a lot of power! So, many customers likely had an increase in their bills as a result of that peak electrical load. But why is that? And what can you do to try to keep your bill down?

The first thing you need to know about why utility bills go up during the summer is to understand how your electricity is being used. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, electrical usage typically tends to be dominated by the air conditioner year-round. Half or more of a typical month’s electrical usage is from the air conditioner.

Maybe you don’t ever adjust the temperature on your thermostat, but you still see your bill increase during the summer. Why is that? It’s because your air conditioner is trying to battle the outside conditions. If the temperature is 80 degrees outside and a customer wants his/her home at 75, it won’t take much work for the AC to reach the desired temperature since the two temperatures are so close together. But when the outside temperature is 100, your AC needs to battle against that high temperature to bring your home to that comfortable temperature you set the AC. The greater the difference between the outside temperature and the desired temperature, the more electricity that will be used to achieve that result.

Now that you understand why your bill sees these increases during the summer, you can better figure out how to combat those increases. Here are some summertime tips to save you money:

  • Turn off lights, electronics and computers when not in use
  • Air dry dishes instead of using the dishwasher’s drying cycle
  • Install and schedule a programmable thermostat
  • Regularly change your AC filter
  • Install new insulation, weatherization strips, caulking
  • Hang dry clothes rather than machine wash
  • Install a new, more efficient air conditioner

There are many things that you can try to do to keep your utility bill consistent throughout the year, but it requires actions from the customer as well. Take control of your electrical usage and see savings in the long run. Many of these tips also qualify for rebates under BPUB’s GreenLiving Rebate Program.