SAN ANTONIO – Twenty-eight days of triple-digit heat so far this season have air conditioners working overtime. Record May and June temperatures, higher natural gas costs, and higher utility rates mean scorching power bills for many folks.
So what can you do to cool your costs?
Raising your thermostat is an obvious but effective measure. CPS Energy recommends 78 degrees. If that’s too uncomfortable, raising your thermostat even a couple of degrees will make a difference in how much your AC unit has to work.
Raising the thermostat a few degrees while you’re away is a money-saver, too.
“A programmable or smart thermostat can actually lower cooling and heating bills by as much as 10 percent a year,” said Dan Wroclawski with Consumer Reports. “Most smart thermostats use WiFi and allow you to control your central air and heat with your smartphone.”
Signing up for a qualified WiFi thermostat with CPS Energy can also mean an $85 credit to your bill in the first year and $30 a year after that.
A 78-degree room will feel cooler if you use your ceiling fan. Remember to rotate them counter-clockwise in warm weather seasons.
“Ceiling fans not only cost very little to run, but when used with your air conditioning, you can actually raise your thermostat about four degrees and feel just as cool,” Wroclawski said.
You can also do some simple things around the house to help lower your cooling bill, such as closing blinds and shades during the hottest part of the day and plugging cracks around doors and windows.
Avoid using the oven, if possible, because it heats up the kitchen. Using the microwave or outdoor grill can conserve power. Also, avoid using the dishwasher and clothes dryer during the hottest part of the day.
As for the air conditioner, have it checked out seasonally and clean or change the filters once a month. Check them more often if you have pets. And be sure furniture is not blocking vents.
Your air conditioner likely accounts for about one-half of your bill. You can check your usage, even down to the hour, by logging into your CPS Energy account and clicking on the My Energy Portal. The information may help you pinpoint other ways to chill your bill.