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Hot weather doesn't have to mean high power bills

Posted July 8, 2010 1:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2010 6:55 p.m. EDT

— Soaring temperatures threaten to send power bills rising, but following five simple tricks can keep electricity costs down.

Power usage last month jumped in what was the hottest June on record at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Twenty-two days saw temperatures over 90 degrees, seven days set new record highs, and the average temperature was 81.5 degrees.

A Duke Energy spokesman said usage was up between 12 to 19 percent from last June, and Progress Energy spokesman said that customers used 11.25 percent more energy than expected.

Air conditioning is largely responsible for such increases, so turning up the thermostat is one of the first steps to save money.

"We recommend 78 degrees," Progress Energy spokesman Mike Hughes said. "For every degree lower than that that you set the thermostat, it's going to cost you 5 to 7 percent more on your electric bill at the end of the month."

Using a ceiling fan is another way to cool the house.

"Ceiling fans help when there are people in the room. They can reduce the feel of the room by 3 to 5 degrees," Hughes said.

Make sure the air conditioner is running efficiently. Check and change the air filters regularly.

"A clogged filter can rob your system of efficiency and cost you 20 percent more every month," Hughes said.

Pull the drapes to keep out the sun's heat. Be sure to close the window coverings on the sunniest side of the house during the hottest part of the day.

Energy savings can also be found in the kitchen. Try to avoid using the oven, and instead, cook with the microwave or other countertop appliances.

"That saves a lot of energy and also doesn't produce the residual heat the conventional oven does," Hughes said.

Progress Energy also offers a free online home energy report that gives people customized tips to save power.