The reason for this post is a conversation I had yesterday morning with a reporter for a local radio station. He called to tell me he spoke with a nearby utility representative who said customers should expect higher than usual bills in the upcoming months due to the unusually extreme heat. He quickly followed that up asking if Pepco is expecting the same thing to happen. The short and not so sweet answer is yes.
With that, I want to shed some light on what the contributing factors are and how to make the right changes to avoid spikes in energy bills. And if you use electricity to heat your home, the great thing about this post is that you can use this post for the winter as well.
2 main contributing factors in higher summer bills:
- The first and most obvious contributor to the “equation” of a higher than normal energy bill this summer is that it has been one of the hottest and most humid summers the Washington, DC metropolitan area has experienced in a long time
- The second and not so obvious contributor is customers leaving their thermostat at their desired temperature. More times than not, customers are focused on comfort more than anything else and rightfully so.
- Example: A customer desires their indoor home temperature to be 70°. If the outside temperature is 80° the A/C unit in their home will have to work to make up a 10° difference. If it’s 95° outside the A/C unit will have to work even harder and cycle on more often to make up a 25° difference.
Key Takeaway: the larger the difference between the outside temperature and the desired temperature in a home, the harder and longer an A/C unit will have to work. Because A/C units are heavy energy users (even the most efficient ones) the more they are in use, the more a customers electric bill will be.
10 changes that will avoid spikes in energy costs:
- Sign up for My Account and find ways to save energy and money with an easy online home energy audit. My Account also allows customers to compare, analyze, and pay their bills.
- Set your air conditioner’s thermostat at 78 degrees. After removing the humidity, this can be a comfortable temperature. Remember every degree up on the thermostat can save as much as 5 percent on your energy bill.
- Change your air conditioner filter. A dirty filter causes the unit to run longer and inefficiently.
- Close window shades, blinds, or drapes to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day.
- Move lamps, TVs, and other heat-producing items away from the air conditioner’s thermostat. Heat from these appliances could cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Turn these appliances off when they’re not being used.
- Check that all windows and doors are tightly closed to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
- Use fans to keep the air moving.
- When possible, cook and use other heat-generating appliances, such as washers, dryers and dishwashers in the early morning or late evening when it usually is cooler. Wash clothes in cold water and line dry.
- Use dishwashers only when fully loaded. Dishwashers use the same amount of electricity whether they’re full or empty. If you have an electric water heater, that is using electricity as well. Use the air-dry option if your unit has one.
- Consider preparing light summer meals that don’t require a lot of cooking. If possible, use an outdoor grill or microwave oven for cooking.
For more savings tips, check out 85 Ways to Save Money and Energy.
‘Til the next post,
P.S. I’m personally sensitive about my energy usage; financially and environmentally. So, I use a combination of energy savings tips. The one that has shown the biggest impact this summer for me is setting my thermostat at 85° and using ceiling fans throughout the house. That may be a bit extreme for some customers, but another combination may work for you.