Summer heat will impact electric bills

Covington Electric Cooperative strives to educate its members about the importance of energy efficiency and using energy wisely. We do this through articles in Alabama Living, direct mail, tips on social media and our website, and we also provide free brochures to members upon request. When homeowners implement these useful energy efficiency tips, they can save money on their power bills each month. However, during extreme weather conditions most people are going to use more electricity than normal even in highly efficient homes. Last month, there were 18 days when the high temperature was 90 degrees or higher with eight of those days being 95 or higher. In June, we have already experienced 17 days of 90+ degrees with seven of those days being 95 or higher. These conditions have impacted the demand for electricity and CEC members should expect to see higher electric bills during the summer months for this reason.

Monitoring energy usage is the best way to avoid being caught off guard by higher than normal electric bills. CEC reminds members to utilize our free usage monitoring feature available on the CEC website when they login to My Co-op Account. This monitoring feature located in the gray shaded box shows daily usage along with the high temperature for each day. Members can even set up alerts for high usage in the notification feature located in the same gray box.

Here are some useful energy efficiency tips for the summer months.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Alliance to Save Energy have joined forces to offer consumers tips on smart energy practices and energy-efficiency home improvements:

  • A well-maintained cooling system will run more efficiently, use less energy, and lower energy bills, so clean or replace AC filters monthly or as needed. Also, keep both outdoor and indoor air conditioner coils clean. Dirt build-up on the indoor coil is the single most common cause of poor operating efficiency.
  • Reduce the cooling load by effectively shading east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-producing activities such as dish washing until the evening. Close curtains during the day and install awnings on south-facing windows. Plant shade trees or vines.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer, preferably 78 degrees or higher. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • Keep your house closed tight in the daytime to keep unwanted heat and humidity out. If practical, ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.
  • Avoid running a dehumidifier at the same time as the AC. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor when you are done using them; activate the “sleep” feature so the machine powers down when on but not in use for a while. When you leave a room, turn off the lights and all other energy-using equipment.
  • Shift energy-intensive tasks such as laundry and dish washing to off-peak energy demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves; do full loads when you run washers, dryers, and dishwashers; wash clothes in cold water when possible; clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load.
  • Keep lamps or TVs away from the air conditioner thermostat. The heat they generate will cause your air conditioner to run longer, running up bills unnecessarily.

             Energy-Efficiency Improvements

  • Get the most energy-efficient air conditioner you can afford. Look for a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) 14 or higher on central systems and the Energy Star label on room units. Savings will show up on your next electric bill.
  • Save up to 10 percent a year with a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature by 10 to 15 percent for the hours that the house is unoccupied.
  • Ceiling and other fans provide additional cooling and better circulation, so you can raise the thermostat and cut down on air conditioning costs. However, remember that ceiling fans cool people not rooms so if you are not using a room turn the ceiling fan off.
  • Sufficient insulation can increase your comfort and reduce your cooling costs up to 30 percent. Start with the attic – which can reach temperatures of 115 degrees or higher – followed by exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Insulate and seal attic air ducts, too. For more information, see the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association’s (NAIMA) consumer web site www.simplyinsulate.com.
  • Plug energy leaks by caulking and weather stripping all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. You can save 10 percent or more on energy bills by reducing air leaks.
  • The Efficient Windows Collaborative (www.efficientwindows.org) explains how high-performance Energy Star windows can reduce average cooling costs from 15 to 35 percent in central and southern climate zones. With efficient windows, homeowners can invest in smaller, less expensive cooling systems while maintaining indoor comfort.
  • Finance energy efficiency investments when refinancing your mortgage to take advantage of low interest rates. The interest may be deductible, and your monthly energy bills will be lower.
  • Cut utility bills by up to 30 percent with air conditioners, major appliances, lighting, and electronics that have the Energy Star label – the government’s symbol for energy efficiency.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs which use significantly less energy.
  • For outdoor lighting, consider combining energy-efficient LEDs with motion sensors to provide security while reducing energy use.