10 Tips: Keep Your Electric Bill From Overheating

With Houston in a mid-summer swelter, many in the 713 area code and the surrounding region are sweating their electric bills -- driven by “feels like” temperatures that make utility bills “feel like” a second mortgage.

Energy provider Reliant offers these 10 tips to keep your AC bill from overheating:

Take control of your costs by following the four-by-four principle. During the summer months, setting your thermostat four degrees higher when you’re away from home for more than four hours can help reduce electricity usage and costs. When your thermostat is set below 78°F, each degree cooler may increase your costs by up to five percent.

Check air filters monthly and replace as necessary. A clean air filter can keep your A/C running at peak condition.

Schedule an A/C checkup. Just as you wouldn’t take your car out for a long road trip without getting serviced, you don’t want to operate your A/C system during the long, hot summer without proper maintenance. Schedule a multi-point checkup to ensure your system is running at its best.

Resist the urge to override your automatic A/C fan settings. Set your A/C fan to the “auto” rather than “on” position. Using the “on” setting can increase energy costs and cause heat from the attic to be transferred into your living space through the ductwork, making the A/C work harder to maintain your desired temperature.

Rotate your ceiling fan counter-clockwise during the summer. Switch your ceiling fan to turn counter-clockwise during the summer months to create a wind chill effect for a more comfortable living environment. Also, turn off fans when you leave the room. Fans are for people not for rooms.

Use blinds or curtains during the summer to reduce solar heat gain by up to 50 percent. Sunlight can increase the demand on your air conditioner by as much as 30 percent.

Wash large loads, instead of several smaller ones, to cut down on electricity usage.

Wait until your dishwasher is full before using it. This is one of the simplest ways to reduce electricity usage.

Use microwave and toaster ovens to cook or warm food or grill outside. Using the oven in the heat of summer forces your A/C to work harder, which raises your electricity bill.

Seal your windows with caulk or weather stripping to reduce air leaks and help maintain the desired temperature in your home year-round.

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