Beat the heat: Summertime weather brings with it big bills

Published 9:15 pm Friday, June 12, 2009

The first day of summer is approaching, bringing high temperatures and with them, high power bills.

Keeping a house cool is a tough job during an Alabama summer, and especially tough on the wallet.

“Definitely air conditioning does increase a customer’s power bill,” Jan Ellis, spokeswoman for Alabama Power, said.

According to Ellis, one of the simplest ways to ensure efficiency on a heating and cooling system is to regularly replace the air filter.

Also, constantly adjusting your thermostat can waste energy, so Ellis suggested keeping it on a set temperature. Using your ceiling fans can allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher than normal.

Ellis said your hot water heater is the second-largest energy user in your home. Insulating your electric water heater and cutting hot water consumption are ways to cut energy use. You can install a flow control or regulator on your shower, saving two to four gallons of water per minute.

To help prevent customers from receiving higher power bills in the summer months, Alabama Power offers budget billing, a concept designed to even out fluctuations in customers’ monthly payments.

“Budget billing averages the bill out over a 12-month time period,” Ellis said.

She said the budget billing program is good for customers who have a dual system, such as those who use gas heat and electric air conditioning.

Alabama Power is a summer-peaking utility.

“The majority of the customers have electric air conditioning,” Ellis said. “In winter customers have gas and propane heating.”