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Take a swat at controlling high summer energy bills

As surely as summer brings mosquitos, it means higher bills for many East Central Energy (ECE) members.

ECE sees significant increases in electricity use on its system during days of extreme heat. On the hottest days (90-100 degrees), energy used for residential air conditioning and commercial load has increased more than 35 percent over an average summer day.

Central air conditioners can add as much as $100 a month to an electric bill and dehumidifiers up to $40.

Summer also means many households have children home all day, using electricity for computers, TVs and video games and heating meals and snacks. Watering the lawn and garden also adds to energy use when your water is pumped from a well.

ECE’s new meters allow you to track your energy use by the day, week and month. You can then make changes that can help control your costs. Download the free SmartHub app for access to your usage information.

To help minimize the impact summer can have on your energy budget, ECE suggests:

  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, or use fans instead of air conditioning when possible. Turn fans off when you leave the room.
  • Have your central air conditioner tuned up by a licensed contractor every two years. Proper maintenance can improve your unit’s efficiency by as much as 20 percent and extend its life. A $25 rebate is available from ECE to help with the cost.
  • Use the microwave, a Crock Pot or the grill to prepare meals instead of using the oven.
  • Wait until you have a full load before doing laundry. Wash clothes in cold water if possible, and hang them outside to dry.
  • Close your window shades and drapes to keep out the sun.
  • Unplug that extra refrigerator in the garage or the basement. Keeping it running can add $150-$250 per year in energy costs to your bill.
  • If you use a dishwasher, wash only full loads. Let the dishes air dry rather than using the heat-dry cycle.
  • Check the refrigerator temperature. You’re losing money if the refrigerator is lower than 37- 40 degrees and the freezer lower than 0-5 degrees.

For more tips to save energy and money, visit

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