JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s utilities are prepping for what is expected to be a hot summer, with forecasters predicting extreme temperatures across the Show-Me State.
As temperatures rise, so do the electric bills. According to the Office of Public Counsel, all electric utilities regulated by the Missouri PSC have higher rates during the summer season, which cause summer rates to be higher. That’s due to the higher cost of electricity generated during times of peak usage.
As always, the companies remind customers that bill payment options are available, but stress that a few tips can be the difference between a large bill and saving some cash.
“We understand some of our customers may be experiencing financial difficulties causing them to fall behind on their electric bills,” said Elizabeth Danforth, Director of Public Affairs at KCP&L. “We want to avoid service disconnections for our customers and we have experts to help find payment solutions that can help them.”
Ameren encourages customers to look into their energy efficiency program, which offers rebates or markdowns to customers who upgrade their systems to more energy efficient ones. Some of those energy efficient options come at a higher premium cost, but that’s where the company’s rebates come in.
“What the programs are set up to do is offer rebates to make up for part of those additional costs and make it easier for our customers to achieve the more efficient equipment,” Jeff Berg, Program Supervisor Energy Efficiency for Ameren Missouri, said. “We have a range of programs from lighting to heating and cooling. With heating and cooling, the savings kind of depend on whether you have a larger or smaller system.”
Those kinds of options could save customers some change, depending on which offers they choose to take.
Another bit of good news for consumers is that the “Hot Weather Rule” took effect on June 1 and runs through Sept. 30. Under this rule, residential units cannot be disconnected when the temperature is forecast to be above 95 degrees or the heat index above 105 degrees between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the next 24 hour period.
However, customers will still be charged for energy used during any suspended disconnection periods.
But the companies, along with the OPC, are also recommending the following tips so that Missourians can stay both cool and safe in the upcoming heat, as well as reduce the cost of your electric bill each month:
- For cooling, set the thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and turn it up or off when you are away or on vacation.
- Use ceiling and portable fans to circulate air.
- Use window shades. Close draperies to keep the sunshine out on bright days. Consider using insulated draperies and shades. Open windows at night when temperatures drop into the 60s.
- Insulate to keep the heat out of your living space.
- Stop air leaks and cut air drafts. Gaps and holes where plumbing pipes and wires enter the home and around exhaust fans and vents as they exit the home should be caulked and stuffed with insulation. If you can see daylight or feel a draft through a crack under or over a door, you may want to consider weather stripping.
- Plant shade trees on the south and west sides of your home, but not directly under electric wires.
- Install a programmable thermostat to save on both cooling and heating costs.
- Invest in a more efficient air conditioning system. Air conditioners with a higher SEER rating are more efficient and less costly to operate.
- Periodically replace air filters for your air conditioners and heating systems, clean air vents regularly and make sure drapes or furniture does not block any of the vents or returns.
- Turn off all lights, appliances, and electronics that are not being used. Consider using a smart power strip, which reduces your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode.
- Run bathroom vent fans after a shower. They’re great at getting rid of humid air.
- Seek a cool public place, such as a library or mall if you don’t have air conditioning or fans.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity.
- Wear loose fitting, lightweight, natural fiber clothing.