Cool tips for hot days

The heat is on, and your electric bill is going to hurt, unless you follow these tips from the power companies

As summer temperatures continue to rise, so do electric bills.

With highs lingering in the mid-90s this week, a Florida Power & Light spokeswoman said the company anticipates it may break its existing record of energy usage of Aug. 17, 2005.

The summer 2005 record holds at 22,361 megawatts, and FPL reported that Tuesday ended with 21,772 megawatts.

FPL, the main electricity provider in Collier and Lee counties, is among the companies offering tips to consumers to help control electric bills.

Sarah Marmion, an FPL spokeswoman, said now is a good time to think of ways to be more energy-efficient at home, as the company expects to break its existing all-time usage record.

“The air conditioner is the most significant factor to electric bills,” Marmion said.

Four-year-old Sasha Issac giggles as she stands over a water spout at Fleischmann Park in Naples. Sasha and siblings Diamond, 8, and Tyler, 2, all of Naples, visited the park to enjoy their last few days of summer before school starts Aug. 20. The prior two days, the three children spent time at the beach.

Photo by GREG KAHN, Daily News

Four-year-old Sasha Issac giggles as she stands over a water spout at Fleischmann Park in Naples. Sasha and siblings Diamond, 8, and Tyler, 2, all of Naples, visited the park to enjoy their last few days of summer before school starts Aug. 20. The prior two days, the three children spent time at the beach.

When the demand for energy increases, Marmion said, there will be “pass-along costs.”

With more people needing energy, more power plants must be built; such plants are expensive and that, in turn, raises costs for everyone.

To avoid high monthly bills and increased costs in the long-run, FPL suggests keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees during the day and 82 degrees at night. For every two degrees cooler or warmer, there is a 9 percent variance in your electric bill.

Lee County Electric Co-op, which serves parts of Collier and Lee counties, reports that the average household gets billed $125 monthly during the summer and also advises keeping the thermostat, preferably a programmable one, at 78 degrees.

Karen Ryan, public relations manager at LCEC, takes her own advice and sticks to this rule at home.

“My house is 1,800 square feet and, keeping the temperature at 78 degrees, I usually pay about $120 a month in the summer,” Ryan said.

Electric bills vary depending on the time of year and size of the property.

Progress Energy, an energy company operating in the Carolinas and in 35 counties in Florida, has reported that, to date, the average monthly bill is $137.31, and if anyone feels their bill is too high, there actually is something they can do about it.

“You can reduce your electric bill with just a few lifestyle changes and without too much inconvenience,” said C.J. Drake, a Progress Energy representative.

LCEC suggests investing in a programmable thermostat so the temperatures can coincide with the lifestyles of the residents. One suggestion made by LCEC is to set the thermostat at 80 degrees in the morning when it is cooler, keeping it there while at work, and then program it to go down to 78 degrees an hour before returning home.

The co-op also suggests using ceiling fans along with the air conditioner, but only when the room is occupied. Other tips: Consider tinting the windows to offer resistance to the sun, planting trees in the yard to shade the windows and replacing air conditioner filters monthly.

Those who take advantage of these energy-saving tips not only will see the difference in their energy bill, they also will contribute to a more healthy environment, energy company representatives said.

Consuming energy during off-peak hours lessens the need for energy suppliers, such as LCEC, to build more power plants and facilities.

“When you get home from work, wait to do laundry or wash the dishes,” Ryan said.

She said that peak hours of homeowner energy operation are from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. She suggests doing energy-consuming activities outside of this time window over the summer.

“When everyone increases their energy demand, more pressure is put on energy facilities, increasing the damage that energy plants place on the environment,” Ryan said.

FPL offers an on-call program to customers who are willing to help in the effort to become more energy efficient. By being on-call, your pool, water heater and air-conditioner can be turned down or off when there is too much energy demand and too little supply. By participating, you would get credits on your electric bill, adding up to $100 of savings a year.

EnergyStar, part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, supports increased energy efficiency in homes to benefit not only the billpayer’s wallet but also the environment.

“Most Americans don’t realize that the average home is responsible for two times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the average car,” said Maria Vargas, EPA and EnergyStar spokeswoman.

According to EPA statistics, Americans saved $14 billion by being more energy-conscious — this is equal to gas emissions from 25 million cars.

“By using energy more efficiently, you’re demanding less energy from power plants,” which operate by burning fossil fuels, Vargas said.

In essence, by saving energy at home, you can play a part in the larger effort of helping the climate.

Marmion said since we can’t control the weather, control your AC.

© 2007 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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