Long summer days and hot weather usually lead to increased air conditioning use and higher electric bills. Increased air conditioning use usually drives electric consumption higher beginning in May. Last year, usage peaked in July, when average monthly usage for residential customers exceeded 1,200 kilowatt hours.
Customers can follow a few simple steps and take advantage of energy efficiency programs to help keep energy costs down this summer.
- Set your thermostat at the highest comfortable temperature to minimize your cooling costs. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer, although individual preferences may vary. For every degree you raise your thermostat, you can reduce your overall energy costs by about 2-3 percent.
- Use ceiling or oscillating fans to keep air moving so you feel cooler without increasing air conditioner use. Don’t block vents or ducts inside the house. Maintaining clear air paths allows your cooling system to work more efficiently. Keep exterior doors and windows closed when running the air conditioner.
- In summer, use shades, blinds or curtains to keep sunlight out, especially during the afternoon in rooms facing west.
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Energy Efficiency Programs
- Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with cooler ones like light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that carry the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use up to 90 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 times longer. ENERGY STAR-qualified CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Both LEDs and CFLs also produce much less heat, so they can cut energy costs associated with home cooling. Discounted LEDs and CFLs are available through the UES ENERGY STAR Lighting Program.
- Consider planting trees that will help you conserve energy by shading buildings and reducing the effects of urban heat islands. UES’ Trees for You Program offers rebates to UES electric service customers for the purchase of two qualified desert-adapted shade trees. UES customers can receive the rebate in the form of a credit on their UES electric bill, up to $15 for each five-gallon or larger tree.
- With the UES Weatherization Assistance program, UES works with local agencies to help limited-income residents reduce their energy expenses through the installation of improved insulation, upgraded cooler motors and other home improvements. These upgrades are provided at no cost to eligible recipients, though funding is limited.
- If you are in the market for a new home, UES Energy Smart Homes offer a variety of energy-efficient features including highly effective insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ducts, efficient heating and cooling equipment and ENERGY STAR-qualified lighting and appliances.