Wednesday, July 25, 2012
A sudden shift in temperatures after a mild start to the summer has caught many Berkeley Electric Cooperative members by surprise as they receive their July electric bills.
After two months of temperatures lingering in the 70- and 80-degree range, the heat made a sudden appearance at the end of June when temperatures climbed into the nineties and have continued to stay there.
According to the BEC, this 15-degree temperature change since the beginning of June has resulted in a corresponding increase in the need for cooling which can account for as much as 50 percent of a member’s power bill. The biggest gain in energy efficiency for members can be achieved by raising the thermostat to at least 78 degrees. Each degree below 78 can add up to 5 percent to a member’s power bill. This number may be higher for homes less energy efficient.
BEC urges its members to make sure their homes are properly insulated and weatherized to prevent conditioned air from leaking out of the home. The effect on energy bills can be much higher for poorly weatherized homes. Other tips include:
• Use a ceiling fan in the room you are occupying. Ceiling fans can make a room feel as much as 7 degrees cooler and use significantly less energy than lowering the thermostat. Be sure to turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room.
• Keep your air conditioning unit in top condition with regular maintenance, including changing the air filters monthly.
• Use weather stripping and caulking around window and door frames - and all other openings (like pipes and wiring) to keep cool air in your home and hot air out. This is a very low cost option (and do it yourself) that can make significant savings.
Berkeley Electric also offers free in-home energy audits and the HomeAdvantage 5 Percent Loan program. The loan program focuses on energy improvements to the home and is designed to give members the maximum return-on-investment as well as increase in their home’s comfort.
Energy tips can be found online at www.togetherwesave.com and www.becsc.com. Also, the brochure “101 Low Cost/No Cost Energy Tips” is available at BEC district offices.