On June 8th, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a 7% rate increase for Austin Energy, the first increase in base electric rates and rate structure change since 1994. What does this mean for Austin residents?
The overall impact is three-part. First, summer electric bills will increase by less than $10 per month for the smallest residential users and between $13 and $24 per summer month for average users. Second, winter electric bills will increase by less than $7 per month for small through average energy users. Lastly, the average increase for residential customers is about 14%.
Austin Energy offers the following seven tips to help Austin residents from Lake Austin to Avery Ranch to reduce their summer electricity bill, many of which require no tools or out of pocket expenses.
HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY TIPS
1. Clean or replace A/C filters at least once a month
Dirty filters make your system work harder and run longer than necessary. They also encourage the buildup of mold and mildew, making cleaning more difficult.
2. Shade outside air conditioning units
A/C units shaded by trees or by other means work more efficiently and use up to 10% less electricity. Unless you live in a tree-dense neighborhood like Legend Oaks or Barton Creek West, consider shading your unit!
3. Clean your A/C’s condenser/evaporator coils at the beginning of the season
Having clean coils lowers energy costs, extends the unit’s life and provides cleaner air for you to breathe. The fin coils on the outside AC unit can be washed with a hose. Coils on inside units may be difficult to get to and may require a trained technician.
4. Keep debris and high grass away from the condenser
These obstacles block airflow to the unit. Blockages make the condenser work harder and run longer.
5. Set your thermostat to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter
Each degree cooler or warmer will increase your energy use by 6 to 8%. For instance, setting your thermostat at 72 in the summer could increase energy use by up to 40%! One of the best ways to save energy dollars is to use less air conditioning and heating.
6. If you have central air conditioning, do NOT close vents in unused rooms
This could increase pressure and cause leaks in your ducts. (This does not apply to Austin condos, homes or apartments with window units, where closing off unused rooms will reduce cooling costs and increase comfort.)
7. Consider new high efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps
They use up to 40% less electricity than older models for the same amount of running time. Through Austin Energy’s Power Saver™ Program, Austin residents from Great Hills to Milwood could receive up to $1575 in rebates for replacing your air conditioner, window unit, or heat pump!
For more information, check out the Austin Energy website or call (512) 974-7827.
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