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Summer electric bills could skyrocket, here's what you can do

Heatwaves and fuel costs raising electric rates
Thermostat heat cool home housing weather Nest
Posted at 3:00 AM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 06:30:27-04

We're officially in the heat of summer, and just like with everything else this year, inflation is about to hit our electric bills, and possibly hard. Some utilities are predicting that July bills could be 10% - 20% higher than last year.

Latrice Bess, filling her car with expensive groceries, worries about her next utility bill.

"All this heat we are having, you have to keep your air conditioner running," she said.

But that's going to be tough on top of her rising gas and food bills.

"Inflation is beating us up out here," she said.

What's behind the predictions? Blame summer heat waves, and the rising price of natural gas, which produces most of the electricity in the U.S.

Duke Energy's Casey Kroger said "they have increased, they have doubled this year. And we expect increased prices to sustain throughout the rest of the summer."

That's not good news. But there's no need to panic, or sweat.

What you can do to keep your bill down

Your local hardware store should have some inexpensive things you can buy to lower your bill. Among them, some furnace filters that now alert you when yours is getting clogged because a clogged furnace filter will make your AC use much more electricity.

Ace hardware's Jon Doucleff says these new 3M filters are "Bluetooth enabled, and it sends a signal to your smartphone to tell you it's time to change your filter."

Doucleff also suggests you buy a fan that makes you feel cooler for just pennies. Then turn up the thermostat. Utility companies say every degree higher saves 2 to 3 percent on your bill.

The website NerdWallet suggests other simple fixes you can do including:

  • Sealing leaks around windows and doors.
  • Closing the blinds.
  • Swapping out old lightbulbs for energy-saving LED bulbs
  • Never run the oven on hot days.
  • Using 'smart power strips' which cut off electricity to devices when they're not being used.

Lastly, if you're struggling to pay a bill, NerdWallet's Kimberly Palmer says you should apply for help.

"The first step is to call your utility company and see if they offer any programs or payment plans or payment forgiveness to help you get through that difficult period," she said.

That way you don't have to pay the bill all at once, and you don't waste your money.

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