Simple moves can ease scorching utility bills

Your thermostat is key to controlling temperature, costs

As temperatures soar, so do the electricity bills. Some simple moves can save you cold cash.
As temperatures soar, so do the electricity bills. Some simple moves can save you cold cash.

SAN ANTONIO – The heat is on, and so is your AC.

If you’re spending more time at home working, cooking and staying cool, that can scorch a hole in your wallet. So what can you do to chill your bills?

“Adjusting your thermostat settings is actually one of the simplest and most significant things you can do to keep your energy bills under control,” said Dan Wroclawski, home and tech writer for Consumer Reports.

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CPS Energy recommends you set your thermostat between 78 and 80 degrees in summer. If that’s too warm for you, adjusting even a couple of degrees can make a difference in your bill.

A programmable thermostat can help, and so can a smart thermostat.

“Some smart thermostats also offer wireless temperature sensors that detect motion in a room,” Wroclawski said. “That allows you to heat or cool a room only when it’s being used.”

Consumer Reports recommends the smart Nest Thermostat E for about $140.

If you enroll an eligible WiFi thermostat in CPS Energy’s rewards program, you can get an $85 credit on your bill. You can also get another $30 credit each year after that. When you enroll, the utility company may adjust your thermostat during peak days. You can also choose to opt-out.

Other simple moves can curtail energy use, such as keeping AC filters clean, weather-stripping doors and windows, closing window blinds and drapes, unplugging unused chargers and circulating ceiling fans.

In the kitchen, using a toaster oven or microwave costs less than using the big oven. And it can pay to avoid using appliances such as the stove, oven or clothes dryer between 3 p.m and 7 p.m., the hottest part of the day.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.