Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Summer heat can mean high utility bills

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  • By James Jordan
    Newton Kansan
    As much as a third - and up to a half - of one’s electric bill comes from heating or cooling a home, according to the Westar Energy website.
    Usage is also much higher in the summer, so Westar also has issues with keeping up with demand. With that in mind, the company has provided several tips for lowering your energy bill in the summer months, as well as lowering one’s use of power.
    According to an energy calculator on the site, a typical three-bedroom, 1,500 square foot home in the Newton area, would have a total electric bill of $2,300 for a year, with just more than $1,000 of that coming from cooling during the summer months.
    The most obvious thing to do to trim the electric bill is to turn the thermostat up in the summer. You may also turn it up further - to 80 degrees - when no one is at home.
    Apart from that, there are several things one can do to lower the electric bill.
    Westar officials say to make sure your system is as clean as possible, and this means changing your air filter about once a month on a central heat and air unit. They also advise having your system serviced once per year.
    Some low cost tips include:
    • Turn off everything not in use, such as lights and computers. They also say to turn off things like chargers when not in use, because that causes “Phantom load,” which still use electricity while it is not being used.
    • Reduce the amount of time windows or doors are open.
    • Use pots and pans that fit burners - such as a small pan on a small burner.
    • Use microwaves or toasters instead of the oven when possible, which reduces usage as well as reducing the load on the cooling system.
    • Keep light fixtures clean. Dust can obstruct light output.
    • Move air with ceiling fans or use natural ventilation whenever possible.
    • During hot, humid times, seal up the house and air-condition around the clock (set the thermostat and leave it).
    • Close vents to unoccupied rooms.
    • Run the bathroom exhaust fan while showering to reduce humidity.
    • Be sure the clothes dryer is sealed and vented to the outside.
    • Close window shades and curtains on sun exposed windows.
    Westar is also offering a wattsaver program, which is a free programmed thermostat for your home or business. On the hottest days, the programmed thermostat will use less energy, and cool your house less, during times when people are typically not at home in the afternoon.
    The website is at www.westerenergy.com
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