LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 8, 2012) - Unseasonably warm temperatures have Arkansans cranking up their home air conditioners earlier than usual this year. And warmer weather means higher electric bills for residents of the Natural State, where cooling accounts for about a quarter of all utility costs.
Before utility costs put a chill on summertime fun, though, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued a Consumer Alert to offer advice on energy efficiency and how Arkansans can save money.
"There are several simple and affordable ways to stay cool and comfortable this summer without having to break the bank to do so," McDaniel said. "Just changing the filter in the air conditioner, closing the drapes or setting the thermostat a degree or two higher can make a major difference in consumer electricity costs."
Energy Efficiency Arkansas, which is a partnership between the Arkansas Energy Office and utility companies located in the State, urges Arkansas consumers to consider these tips for lower-cost bills during warmer weather:
- While at home, keep the thermostat set no lower than 78 degrees. While away, set the thermostat at least five degrees warmer. For every degree the thermostat setting is raised, cooling costs are reduced by 3 to 5 percent.
- Interior lights produce heat, so keep them off during the day and while away from home. Also, close shades or drapes to keep out the sun's heat. Consider shade trees as another way to block the sun's rays.
- In addition to closed drapes and shade trees, consider reflecting window coatings to keep sunlight from adding heat to the home. More than 40 percent of heat that builds up in a home comes through the windows.
- Use weather-stripping and caulking to seal around windows and doors. Approximately 25 to 40 percent of energy used for cooling and heating is lost as a result of leakage from the home.
- Consider installing a programmable thermostat. The equipment costs about $100, but can pay for itself within about a year by saving $70 to $115 annually on utility expenses.
- Change filters on air-conditioning/heating units monthly. This allows the air conditioner to run more efficiently, keeps air in the home cleaner and prolongs the life of the system. Dirty or clogged filters slow down the cooling process.
- Have air-conditioning units serviced annually. Annual tune-ups extend the life of the system and can improve efficiency by as much as 20 percent.
- Remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Turn off ceiling fans when a room is unoccupied. When using a ceiling fan, save energy by turning up the thermostat by a degree or two.
McDaniel reminded Arkansans that may not be able to afford their utility bills that assistance is available to consumers who qualify in the form of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
LIHEAP is a local-state-federal program that helps low- to moderate-income consumers pay for home energy expenses. In Arkansas, the program provides assistance to approximately 60,000 people a year. Local community action agencies provide applications for the program. To find information about these agencies, visit www.acaaa.org.
For more information about the Attorney General's Office and its Consumer Protection Division, visit GotYourBackArkansas.org or call the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2341.
And for more suggestions on how to improve energy efficiency, consumers can visit www.energyefficiencyarkansas.org.