As temperatures rise, so do utility bills for many Arkansans who rely on air conditioning to keep them cool during the hot summer months.
The cost of cooling a home is one of the single largest utility expenses. In Arkansas, a survey of residential electricity consumption determined that cooling a home accounted for about one-fourth of annual costs. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that Arkansas consumers can stay cool and save money on their utility bills.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert with advice on how Arkansans can lower utility bills during the hot summer months.
“It’s almost as difficult to handle the triple-digit utility bills as it is the triple-digit temperatures we experience during a typical Arkansas summer,” McDaniel said. “Obviously, utility costs will be higher than normal during periods of extreme heat, but there are some effective and inexpensive ways to save money and keep the house at a comfortable temperature, too.”
McDaniel shared this advice from Energy Efficiency Arkansas, a partnership between the Arkansas Energy Office and Arkansas-based utility companies:
• Think about buying reflective window coatings to help keep sunlight from adding heat to the home, since more than 40 percent of the heat that builds up in a home enters through the windows.
• Set the thermostat no lower than 78 degrees while at home. When away from home, set it at least five degrees warmer. (Consumers reduce cooling costs an average of 3 percent to 5 percent for every degree higher on the thermostat).
• Keep heat-producing interior lights turned off during the day. Keep drapes closed to keep out the sun’s heat. Plant shade trees to further reduce solar impact.
• Use weather stripping on doors and caulking to seal windows. (Approximately 25 percent to 40 percent of all energy used for cooling and heating is lost from leakage).
• Install a programmable thermostat. These can save between $70 and $115 annually on utility expenses.
• Change filters monthly on heating and air-conditioning units. Dirty or clogged filters slow down the cooling process and cause the system to operate inefficiently.
• Keep in mind that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Turn ceiling fans off when a room is not occupied.
The Energy Efficiency Arkansas website has many more suggestions for consumers who want to save on utility bills and improve energy efficiency in their homes. Visit www.EnergyEfficiencyArkansas.org.
In addition, some Arkansans may be eligible for the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides assistance in paying utility bills. Most of that money is allocated to low-income elderly consumers and individuals with disabilities, as well as to other eligible consumers as funding becomes available. Local community action agencies have more details on the program. Visit www.acaaa.org for more information.
To contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, visit www.GotYourBackArkansas.org or call 1-800-482-8982.