Home & Garden

Warning: Hot Summer Ahead!

Temperatures hit record levels across much of Louisiana in May, and no relief from the heat is in sight in the months ahead. So now is the time to take action to control your energy usage before summer electricity bills come due. Implementing simple steps now can add up to big energy savings later.

“We want our customers to stay comfortable year-round, but let’s face it – it takes a lot of energy to run your air conditioner continuously during the summertime. Even with our low rates, fighting off the heat can result in higher electric bills,” said Melonie Stewart, acting vice president of customer service in Louisiana. “But there are steps you can take now to make your home more energy efficient year-round, and these measures can add up to energy savings as well as a comfortable living space.”

Here are some simple things you can do to chill your bill this summer:

Proper attic insulation is the No. 1 way to conserve energy. Without proper insulation, half of the energy we use to heat and cool our homes can simply escape.

Insulation is available in rolled batting, loose fill, boards or foam and can be used in attics, on floors, in walls or around pipes. Each type of insulation has a different R-value, which is its resistance to heat loss, so it may take more of one type of insulation to get the same R-value.

Keep the Heat Out
Anything that keeps heat from entering your home can help lower your electric bill. Close drapes, blinds or shades to prevent sun from coming in, and caulk or seal openings around walls, doorways and windows.
And just like wearing light-colored clothing can help reflect the summer sun, painting your house a light color also can help reflect heat and keep your house cooler. Consider installing solar screens on windows for additional heat reflection.

Trees or bushes that provide shade can help – just make sure they aren’t planted near or under power lines!

Use the Air Conditioner Wisely
Air conditioning and heating makes up more than half of your electric bill, so make sure to get it inspected and cleaned annually.

Keep the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Each degree below 78 will add approximately 3 percent to the cost of your electric bill. Even if you never adjust the thermostat, your unit has to work harder during the summer months to keep your house at the temperature you have set.

Fans can be a huge help in circulating cooler air. Make sure ceiling fans are turning counterclockwise in the summer to take advantage of the airflow.

Upgrade Appliances
Appliances use a lot of electricity, so it makes sense to invest in ones that meet the government’s ENERGY STAR rating.

Keep refrigerator doors closed and keep the temperature between 35 and 38 degrees in the fridge and between zero and five degrees in the freezer. A refrigerator that is set 10 degrees colder can use up to 25 percent more energy.
If you have a second refrigerator in the garage that you don’t use often, unplug it. Garages can get very hot, causing the second fridge to work overtime.

Also, you can lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees and install an insulation blanket as well.

Light Efficiently
LED bulbs don’t give off as much heat, burn longer and use less energy than ordinary bulbs. In fact, LED lights are up to 80 percent more efficient than traditional lighting, such as fluorescent and incandescent lights.
Turn off lights when they aren’t being used, and consider using a timer that can turn the lights off for you.

Entertain Smartly
Unplug electronic devices like televisions, DVRs, video games, cell phones – even chargers – when you are not using them. An easy fix is to plug devices that do not require constant power into a power strip that you can flip off when not needed.

Many of these devices continue using electricity when not in use, and according to ENERGY STAR’s website, this “phantom power” adds more than $100 to the cost of an average household’s electric bill each year.

More tips, as well as clear, do-it-yourself videos, to help put these ideas to work can be found at entergy.com/savemoney.

About the author

The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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