With temperatures soaring into the 90s this week, our air conditioners are working overtime. And all of that heat is hitting energy bills hard.
"A lot of times we focus on keeping the warm air out and the cold air in," says Alliant Energy spokesman Scott Drzycimski. "But we don't always remember there are appliances in our home that are adding to the heat, and avoiding the use of those will help lower your energy bill."
Drzycimski offers seven ways to cut your cooling costs during these dog days of summer:
- Raise the temperature on your thermostat a couple of degrees. Every degree above 78 will save you 4-6 percent on your energy usage. Keep it manageable, though.
- Use those ceiling and box fans - but only when you're in the room. A fan can help you feel up to 10 degrees cooler because of the wind chill it creates. But a fan doesn't cool a room, so turn them off when you're not there to avoid wasting energy.
- Use your window shades to block the warm sunlight from your home.
- Incandescent lights produce heat when they're on, so use lighting as little as possible.
- Avoid using appliances until late at night, when it's (slightly) cooler. And keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible. The appliance kicks off heat whenever it has to cool back down.
- Wash your clothes in cold water and then air-dry them.
- Find out whether your service provider offers Budget Billing, or something similar. Alliant Energy's program allows you to pay the same amount each month, spreading the cooling and heating costs over the entire year. "It makes the monthly budget that much easier, and it also takes the hills and valleys out of your monthly bills," Drzycimski says. There are mechanisms in place that will adjust if you overpaid or underpaid at the end of the year. Alliant customers can sign up online or by calling 1-800-ALLIANT.