Keeping your power bill from spiking with the heat

July 19, 2010 2:18:57 PM PDT
With the recent heat wave, temperatures are not the only thing soaring. As people use their air conditioners to keep cool, their electricity bills are rising.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower your bill. Also, local power companies are willing to work with residents to help them afford their bills.

"I have to try my best, scraping and saving and pushing to the side," said Minerva Morales, a Con Ed customer.

Morales is not looking forward to getting her next Con Ed bill. Last month's bill was $100, and she expects July's to soar to nearly $300. She says she barely ran one small window unit in one bedroom during this last cycle, not ideal since she has 4 children.

Con Ed says during these hot summer months, the average customers uses about 350 kilowatt hours of electricity, compared to about 300 the rest of the year. Many find out the hard way, just how quickly that adds up.

There are some things you can do right now, that will save you money. First, raise the temperature on your thermostat. Inching it up 1 degree will save you about 3 percent. So if it's set at 70 and you move it to 78 degrees, you will save about 24 percent in one month.

Furthermore, use air conditioners only when you're home, and only in rooms you're using. If you want to cool your home before you return, set a timer that turns on no more than 30 minutes before you arrive.

Use a fan if the air is not too hot. Fans work best at night to bring in cooler air from outside. Use a fan only when the air conditioner is on or the windows are open.

Also, turn off nonessential appliances.

Finally, call Con Ed and sign up for level billing. They will take a look back at your past bills and set up a payment system going forward.

If you are behind with payments, do not ignore that warning in the mail from Con Ed, doing so will leave you hot and in the dark. Officials say call them, they will work with you. Minerva is doing just that, level billing is her plan of action.

Other area power companies are also willing to work with their customers. For information, visit the website of your power company.

Con Ed

New Jersey Power and Light

Long Island Power Authority