Cooler temperatures don't have to lead to higher utility bills

Updated: Dec. 12, 2016 at 8:54 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When temperatures drop or skyrocket, adjusting your air system to combat high or low temperatures can be costly.

During the summer, beating the heat is nearly impossible without cranking up the air conditioning.

However, during the winter months, Alabama Power and Dixie Electric Cooperative say there are a number of steps customers can take to keep from having to turn their heaters up and pay a hefty price for doing so.

Alabama Power's Mike Jordan said the largest portion of the average power bill comes from the actual heating or cooling of a home, so it's best to find a temperature that is comfortable and leave it there.

"Systems are usually more inefficient when the customer will turn the thermostat up to 75, but then drop it 62," Jordan said.

Both Jordan and Dixie Electric Cooperative's Terri Faulkner said the recommended thermostat temperature for an average power bill is 68 to 70 degrees.

"If you want to wear extra layers, use blankets or put on a sweatshirt, that will help," Faulkner said. "Anything you can do to keep from turning up that thermostat will help."

Faulkner said central Alabama residents are fortunate because winter in the region brings a mixture of moderate and cold temperatures, making it easier to manage power bills than utility customers in colder regions. However, she said everyone has a different idea of a comfortable temperature, so it's important to figure out the best way to have both comfort and efficiency.

Both Faulkner and Jordan said other tips include reversing ceiling fans to circulate warm air, keeping blinds and curtains open during the day to let in sunlight and using weather strips for any cracks and leaks around doors or windows.

Both Dixie Electric Cooperative and Alabama Power offer free energy audits for their customers. The companies will send a service representative to inspect your home and help you make changes that could make your home more efficient and decrease your bill payment.

Also, both companies offer an online energy tracking system for customers to log on to see how much energy they are using, both daily and monthly.

Customers can sign up for alerts if they use over a certain amount of energy. Both reps said that being aware of your energy usage will keep many customers from overpaying for things they may not even be aware they are using.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.