Advice for keeping electricity usage in check during Valley’s summer months

AC UNIT 2By Joyce Coronel

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As temperatures continue to climb and Tempe and West Chandler residents gear up for summer fun, there’s one thing most are not looking forward to: a dramatic spike in their electric bill.

Kathleen Mascareñas, media relations specialist with Salt River Project, offered pointers on how to keep the summer electric bills from gobbling up the family budget.

“The number one energy consumer in your home is your air conditioning unit,” Mascareñas told Wrangler News. Reducing the use of the unit is one surefire way to lower energy consumption, she said.

“We recommend that you set your thermostat between 78 to 80 degrees when you’re home, and when you’re away from your home, you set the thermostat at about 85 degrees.”

With every degree set above 80, consumers can save about 2 to 3 percent on cooling costs. An easy way to achieve that is through a programmable thermostat, Mascareñas said.

“You can set it and forget it.”

There are also some low-tech solutions to reducing energy consumption: keeping the blinds, shutters and curtains closed during the hottest part of the day.

Windows can account for nearly 50 percent of the heat that enters a home. SRP also offers rebates to homeowners who install shade screens on their windows.

For those interested in green solutions, Mascareñas said planting shade trees can help keep costs down. SRP offers two free shade trees to homeowners who take a class and learn how to properly plant them. Once fully grown, the trees can reduce a homeowner’s electric bill by up to $50 per year.

When it comes to the kitchen, old standby tricks like the use of a slow cooker can really add up to savings.

“Anything you can do to not heat up your home. We all know that when oven or stove is going, you can feel the warmth inside the home. So we do recommend grilling outdoors or preparing meals that do not require the range or the stove,” Mascareñas said.

She also pointed to ceiling fans and the need to reverse the blades during the spring and summer months. “A lot of people forget to rotate them. You also want to make sure you turn the fans off when you leave the room because ceiling fans don’t actually cool the room—they just cool the body while you’re in that room.”

Then there are what SRP refers to as the “top 10 bad energy wasting habits” that drive bills higher.

Like standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open, pondering the contents.

“I would say, be aware of what you want, go in and get it and get out. Don’t linger there,” Mascareñas said.

Using old-fashioned incandescent bulbs and falling asleep with the television on are two other ways energy is wasted.

The other no-no is leaving appliances plugged in when they are not being used.

“We call those energy vampires,” Mascareñas noted. That includes the cell phone that’s already fully charged but still plugged in and those entertainment devices.

“Leaving all the X-Boxes and Gameboys plugged in all the time also adds up in that bill for you.”

SRP offers a number of discounts and rebates as well as more energy saving tips at




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