A high number of above-normal temperatures this summer across northeast Georgia is causing power bills to rise. Jackson EMC members, for instance, consumed nearly 102 million more kWh (kilowatt) in July than in June.
Temperatures were in the 90s in Gainesville on nearly every day in July and June. Though some relief may be in store in the near future, according to some ten-day forecasts, more 90+ readings are also expected..
EMC officials note that when temperatures outside are high, heat pumps have to work overtime to keep the air indoors cool.
They offer the following tips to reduce energy use where possible - and save money:
Be air conditioner smart
Nearly half of the electricity used at home goes to condition the air inside. To impact cost, the air conditioner or heat pump needs to run less.
- Set your thermostat to 78 degrees.
- Don't turn off the air conditioner when you're gone; instead set it higher. Turning it off makes the system work much harder to overcome the heat built up in the house when you do turn it on.
- Use a programmable thermostat; set it to start bringing your home's temperature down to 78 degrees 30 minutes before you get home.
- Replace air conditioner filters now, then once a month. The dirtier the filter, the harder your heat pump has to work.
- Lamps, televisions or anything that creates heat needs to be kept away from the thermostat; they will impact its accuracy.
- Your air conditioner will operate most efficiently if you trim nearby foliage to allow adequate air flow around the unit.
- Don't block vents with furniture or other objects.
- Use ceiling fans when you are in a room to provide additional cooling; they also provide better circulation, which reduces air conditioning costs.
Reduce the heat inside
- Restrict use of heat-producing appliances like ovens, dishwashers and dryers to the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Grill outside or use a microwave or toaster oven. A toaster oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a regular oven and releases less heat into the home.
- Turn off heat-generating devices when not in use, including lamps, televisions and computers.
- On warm days, close blinds and drapes, especially in south-facing windows which allow in the most heat.
Cut energy use everywhere else
- Activate “sleep” features on computers and office equipment that power down when the equipment is not in use for more than an hour.
- Do full loads when you use clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers.
- Use dimmers, timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs, which burn longer and produce less heat.
- Plant deciduous trees to shade the south side of your house.
- Insulate floors, walls and attics to keep cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
- Get your air conditioner tuned-up. Consider a maintenance contract that provides a checkup twice a year, prior to peak cooling and heating seasons.
- If your HVAC unit is 10 years old or more, consider replacing it. New models are more efficient and may lower your electric bill. Jackson EMC offers rebates and low-interest loans for qualifying members. More details about these programs are available at www.jacksonemc.com/rebates.
For more money-saving tips, check out the list at www.jacksonemc.com/playbook.
To minimize the impact weather has on electric bills, many electric utilities offer billing options that level out the costs from summer and winter energy usage over a 12-month period. Jackson EMC’s budget billing plan for members works by averaging the current month and the last 11 months of electric use, which becomes the new monthly payment amount. Members interested in budget billing should call their local office at 1-800-462-3691 or learn more atwww.jacksonemc.com/budgetbilling.
Jackson EMC, the second largest electric cooperative in the nation, is headquartered 50 miles northeast of Atlanta in Jefferson, Georgia. The cooperative serves more than 221,180 meters. In the last 12 months, its members used 5.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity.