Keep cool for less this summer

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 10:31am

Since it has been so hot for so long now, it seems cranking down the air conditioner is your only relief.  But air conditioners are the largest user of electricity in your home, so that cool air could put pressure on your wallet.

As the temperatures rise, so does your electric bill.  The first place you want to look to lower that amount is your thermostat setting, said SWEPCO spokesman Scott McCloud.  "It should be around 76 to 78 degrees.  Anywhere below 76, you're adding about 8% to your cooling costs."

To help circulate that cool air, McCloud recommends running the fans because it will only cost you a couple dollars a month.

During the summer months, the largest demand time for energy from SWEPCO is from 1 to 6 p.m.  McCloud suggests to not run your washing machine or dishwasher during those peak hours.  This can help SWEPCO avoid overloading like some Texas cities saw happen Monday.  Those areas in Texas asked customers to voluntarily conserve energy.

In SWEPCO's 99 years of history, they've never had to schedule controlled blackouts for there customers, but it is a possibility if the temperatures get to high and customers increase their electricity use.

But for most customers, the biggest concern isn't the overload, it's the dollar amount on their bill.  Terri Axelson of Centerpoint Community Services Louisiana 211 told us that many of the older homes in the community are not well-insulated and weatherized.  "They'll get an extraordinary, sometimes two or three times the typical amount of their bill."

When they don't have a means to pay the bill, they can call 2-1-1 to get the financial assistance from Centerpoint Community Services.  Axelson told us they spent about $500,000 helping northwest Louisiana customers pay their electric bills.  "It's really just a lot of folks struggling right now, some would say more than ever, some would say about the same.  We've seen a significant increase."

Axelson predicts they will spend two to three times that amount in assistance this year partially because of more funding provided.

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