We knew it was coming, the Kansas City heat we all know and love. Yes, it took a while, and yes it’s still officially springtime, but summer’s heat is here. And the first electricity bill of the season isn’t far behind.
Staying cool in these parts can be a 24/7 endeavor, with air conditioners running around the clock. That means your utility meter may resemble those digits at the gas pump, adding up and up and up. If you’re looking to maintain or even reduce your energy bill for the next three months, give these ideas some thought.
Get with the program. If you haven’t converted to a programmable thermostat yet, do yourself a favor. They allow you to punch in the times of day when you need the most or the least amount of cooling, and your A/C unit adjusts accordingly. If you’re a KCPL customer, they’ll give you one and install it for free (Missouri customers) if you sign up for their program
http://kcplsave.com/residential/programs_and_services/default.html. It’s an easy way to save up to 20 percent on your bill.
Play the averages. This won’t necessarily save you money, but it makes budgeting easier from month to month. If you enroll in KCPL’s Average Pay, your 12-month power use is averaged out over the course of year, so summer bills don’t spike. Now this does mean your offseason charges will be a bit higher, but this actually helps you budget throughout the year.
Get a tune-up. When you go to turn on the A/C on the first warm day, most people just hope everything will kick on and get through another season. The best way to ensure that is to have an A/C technician come out for an annual inspection and cleaning. Dust, dirt and other airborne particles are the number one cause of problems that lead to system breakdowns (and costly repairs). But don’t wait until the summer months; get ahead of the game and conduct this maintenance while the temps are still mild.
Do it yourself. Try these tricks to keep your system working its best and shave more dollars from every bill:
Clean or replace air filters every 30 to 90 days. If you have animals that shed heavily, you may need to clean or replace filters more often. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20209975_20477765,00.html
Keep the fan on. If you have a ceiling fan, switch it so that it turns counter-clockwise, moving to produce a comfortable breeze in the room. Also, try switching your thermostat to “Fan” instead of “Auto.” The outside unit will still cycle when the thermostat calls for cooling, but the continuous airflow will keep you cooler and maintain a more even temperature between floors.
Keep grass, weeds, plants and shrubs away from the outside unit. These can block necessary airflow, and dirt and debris can collect on the coils, both of which will make the unit work harder. To help remember to do this, add it to your mowing routine and blow off the unit each time you cut the grass.
In cooler lower-level rooms, cut back or cut off some vent registers and open them all the way in warmer upstairs rooms.
If you close the door to a room, make sure there is a gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. Return air ducts need to pull the warm air from the room.
These are just a few of the many tips you can try to help save. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/keep-house-cool-23-tips.html
Give these a try and compare this summer’s bills to last year’s. I’m confident you’ll see how the savings add up. Pretty cool, huh?
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.