(PLAINFIELD) – Trying to stay cool during this heat wave? That probably means you’re using more energy at home – which can lead to a higher energy bill. Air conditioners use a lot of electricity, but there are a few things you can do to help avoid surprises on your monthly bill.
Three tips for understanding your bill
The first step to keeping your bill in check is understanding what’s on it. Here’s what to look for:
Billing cycle length
Check the number of days in your billing cycle. Most bills cover 30 days, but sometimes it varies. Bills that cover more days can be higher.
Look at average kilowatt-hour (kWh) use per day. At first glance your bill may look higher, but if your average use is similar to the same time last year, or similar to another month with extreme temps, it’s a normal bill.
Online usage tools
If you have a smart meter, check for a daily usage analysis tool online. Smart meters collect info by the hour, so you can check for spikes in energy use to see what appliances and behaviors are increasing your bill.
10 ways to avoid billing surprises
Now for the good stuff. Here are some things you can do to keep tabs on your energy use and lower your bill.
1. Get usage alerts.
The best way to avoid billing surprises is to track your use. Duke Energy customers with a smart meter can sign up for Usage Alerts. Similar to data alerts you get from your cellphone company, you can set a budget amount for your monthly energy bill and receive notices when you are approaching your limit.
2. Upgrade your bulbs.
Replace standard bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs are more efficient than regular bulbs and emit less heat, while giving off the same amount of light.
3. Check your HVAC.
Have your heating and cooling system checked to maintain performance. Duke Energy offers qualified customers rebates to help offset the cost of replacing older units with energy-efficient ones. Use finditduke.com to find a certified contractor.
4. Change your filters.
Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes an HVAC system work harder and use more energy.
5. Adjust your thermostat.
Set your thermostat as high as comfortable. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy bill will be.
6. Shut the blinds.
Close blinds and curtains on sunny days.
7. Put the whole-house fan to work.
If you have a whole-house fan, use it to pull cool air into your home at night or in the early morning through open windows. Turn the fan off and shut the windows during the day.
8. Use exhaust fans.
Bathroom and kitchen fans remove heat and humidity from showering and cooking. (And take short showers instead of baths to save even more year-round.)
9. Cool off with ceiling fans.
A ceiling fan can cool you off enough that you’ll feel comfortable raising the thermostat a few degrees.
10. Save washing for the evening.
Run your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at night when it’s cooler. Also, run full loads and consider air drying dishes and clothes to save even more.
To help manage your energy use, Duke Energy offers assistance programs and services, including:
Budget Billing gives customers better control over their energy spending by establishing predictable monthly payments.
Online savings calculators help customers understand how their homes use energy – and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their summer bills.
Eligible homeowners can get a free home energy assessment, which includes an Energy Efficiency Starter Kit containing LEDs, an energy-efficient showerhead and switch and outlet energy seals.