Summertime in Arkansas is synonymous with high summer temperatures, but this year’s weather has been one for the record books – literally.
Arkansas has been experiencing above-average temperatures since April, and that can mean higher monthly statements for our customers.
But exactly how does the weather affect our utility bills? Higher temps mean your air conditioner needs to work harder and run longer. Many customers keep their thermostat set on 75 degrees, which is 20-30 degrees below the outside air temperature. Because of the heat, your air conditioning system will be running approximately 15 hours out of 24 in a day.
While you might keep your thermostat at the same temp each year, your system is working harder and using more electricity due to the extreme weather this summer. Even if you never change your thermostat, cooling can account for more than 50 percent or more of your electricity use during hotter weather.
In May 2018, the average high temperature was the warmest on record since 1987 and the average monthly temperature was the warmest ever recorded. In fact, all 31 days in May were above average temperature. June was the warmest in two years, with 23 days being above average temperature and 21 of those days well above 90 degrees. This meant most of our customers saw higher bills in June and July.
Your system is working overtime and using more electricity to keep up with the heat, and only a few days of hotter-than-normal temperatures can significantly increase your statement. Add in other energy usage including major appliances and lighting, and most of our bills are higher than we’ve previously seen.
There are things you can do to avoid higher energy costs during the summer. Your home absorbs and retains heat throughout the day. The easiest way to cool your home is reduce your home’s heat gain. Simple things like blocking the sun by closing drapes can drastically reduce your cooling system’s load. Highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent, while heavy curtains can reduce heat gain by 33 percent.
Setting thermostats to 78 degrees or above will also reduce your energy use. On average, customers save 14 percent for every two degrees you raise your thermostat above 78. Not willing to sacrifice comfort? Try raising the thermostat by 5-10 degrees when you leave for work.
If your thermostat is set to 74 degrees and the outside temperature is 90, that’s a 16 degree difference. If you raise your thermostat to 80 degrees before leaving for the day, that’s only a 10 degree difference and the rate of temperature change is less.
If you raise your settings during an eight-hour work day and then lower them upon your return, your AC will run for a long time to bring the temperature in your home down. However, it won’t use near as much energy compared to all the energy it would have used keeping your house six degrees cooler for the entire eight-hour period. That six-degree difference can save you 36 percent on your energy usage.
You can also save money by doing simple maintenance on your air conditioning unit each year. The average central AC unit loses five percent of its efficiency each year from dust and dirt accumulation as well as regular wear and tear. Have the unit cleaned and serviced by a professional to ensure it continues running efficiently and replace your air filter regularly.
Looking for more ways to beat the heat this summer? Click here to find energy-saving tips or call 450-6000 to schedule a free energy audit from a Conway Corp certified energy professional.