Beat the heat without breaking the bank

July 15, 2014 10:31:03 AM



If you're like most people, when you get home from work everything gets turned on. The thermostat is set to Antarctica, the oven is cooking and ceiling fans are circulating. It can all lead to high bills. 


4-County Electric Power Association and their energy provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority, are giving tips on simple ways to cut summer utility bills by as much as 30 percent.  


The TVA offers programs for residents to improve the energy efficient abilities of their homes. Residents can contact 4-County to have an in-home energy evaluation performed at their homes. A contractor will come out and inspect homes for ways to update to more energy efficient equipment on items such as windows, insulation and HVAC units.  


If the recommended changes are made, the company will reimburse the resident for half of their replacement fees, up to $500.  


"Local customers should know their local company has programs to help them save," said David Sparks of TVA.  


Updating homes is one way to save money, but there are other simpler, affordable methods.  


Caulking and weather stripping doors and windows is a cheap, do-it-yourself way to save money, said Chris Stanely of TVA. Customers should also set their hot water heaters to 120 degrees or medium, and should try to insulate the unit by wrapping it in towels.  


When out of the home, Stanley said that residents should set their thermostats to about 78 degrees, as opposed to turning them off. The energy used to bring your home temperature down upon your return home ends up being more expensive than leaving it on all day at a higher setting.  


Timing is a critical component to saving on energy bills. Customers should try to avoid using their laundry machines and ovens during the hottest times of the day, around 4 p.m. The warmer it is when using those products, the more strain is put on the power grid. 


"If you go for a run in the summer, it's better to go in the cooler parts of the day, the same goes for using power," said Todd Gale of Columbus Power and Light.  


Gale said it is important for local renters to bear utilities in mind when choosing a place to live. Many apartments offer cheap rents, but might be terribly energy inefficient. This can lead to renters biting off more than they can chew financially. 


"You'll see a landlord charge $400 for rent, and have $500 utility bills," Gale said. "There's a reason that apartment is so low."  


TVA covers 9 million residents and 155 local power companies, Stanley said.