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As summer closes in, how you can keep your energy bills low

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 7:15 PM CDT
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(Heart of Illinois ABC) - The average energy bill is expected to increase $600 a year after June 1, but keeping cool while paying less for power starts with little to no cost.

“Everyone’s a little bit pre-conditioned to price increases, and then when the utility bill comes, they’ll just say ‘Hey, there’s just one more example,’” says Brad Johnson, the co-owner of AAA Northgate Heating and Air.

In light of the increase adding on to what’s normally a higher bill, Ameren is encouraging customers to examine ways to keep costs down around their homes. That can include regular maintenance on your air conditioning unit, putting fans around your home, and making sure sunlight is limited during peak heat throughout the day.

“We want to create that habit so that they continue to do that over the summer, over the winter, and all of the seasons,” says Stephanie Robinson, an Ameren Energy Efficiency Consultant.

Here are some tips the company suggests to stay energy efficient during the warm months:

  • Avoid using oven on hot days
    • Use a stovetop, microwave, outdoor grill instead of using the oven, as the excess heat adds to the room.
  • Set water heater to 120 degrees
    • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that turning the temperature on your hot water heater down to 120 degrees saves 6 to 10% each year on your hot water heating costs.
  • Use floor and ceiling fans
    • Fans use a fraction of the energy that central AC units do.
  • Wash a full load of laundry/dishes
    • Washing with cold water (and cold water detergent) can get your clothes just as clean while only costing 4¢ per load.
  • Concentrate your AC
    • Try to concentrate your air conditioning flow to the rooms or areas of your home that you use the most. This is more energy-efficient than trying to cool your entire home. Close the vents in those rooms you don’t frequently use, like spare bedrooms and the basement and only open them when you need them.
  • Clear overgrown areas around your exterior AC unit
    • Pull or trim some of the weeds, grasses and other debris surrounding your exterior AC unit to ensure it runs efficiently.
  • Replace your AC filter
    • Your air conditioner has likely accumulated a lot of dust from being dormant in the winter, so replace your AC filter before you start cooling your home. This will not only help the AC unit be more efficient, but it will also help keep the air free of dust.
  • Don’t cool an empty house
    • When you leave for that summer vacation, remember to turn up the thermostat to 85-90°F so you don’t cool your home when no one is there to enjoy it. Also, ensure draperies, furniture, etc. are not covering your AC vents, allowing a free flow of air into the room.
  • Upgrade to a smart thermostat
    • These thermostats can change the temperature automatically based on your preferences, so you can set a lower temperature when you’re home and a higher temperature while you’re away at work.
  • Switch your ceiling fans
    • If you changed the direction of your ceiling fans to go clockwise this winter, it’s time to switch them back. When your fans rotate counter-clockwise, it creates a downward flow of air so you feel cooler. Simply flip the switch (usually located at the base of your ceiling fan) to help lower your energy bill.
  • Get a dehumidifier
    • Illinois summers are known for their humidity, so combat it with a dehumidifier. Reducing the amount of moisture in the air can make your home seem much cooler, without having to turn on the AC.
  • Upgrade your cooling units
    • Because older appliances tend to be less efficient, it might be time for you to upgrade to a newer, more energy efficient AC unit.
  • Close blinds or curtains as the sun beams on your windows
    • As the sun reaches your windows, block the sun from coming in and heating up your home.

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, Ameren also offers assistance to customers who qualify. You can find more information on that by visiting their official page here.

If you want more information on why Ameren and other utility companies are raising their rates, you can find more information in our article here.

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