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energy wise ■


Electric Bills Reflect Weather Patterns Minimizing movement of heated or cooled air, setting thermostat, can cut costs


BY JOHN DRAKE COOPERATIVE ENERGY ADVISOR


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lectric bills tend to vary with the seasons because like it or not, weather matters. When it’s cool outdoors, family members generally want the house warm. When it’s warm outside, air conditioners make life a lot more pleasant.


How much weather affects your electric bills depends on many factors, including your home’s original construction materials, insulation levels, and air leaks. Personal comfort plays a big role here, too, as does the difference between the thermostat setting inside and temperatures outdoors.


When a house stays at 68°F. but the outdoor temperature varies from minus 20 degrees in winter to more than 100 degrees on a muggy summer’s day, demand for heating and cooling can be significant. Cooled air leaving a home essentially wastes the money spent to cool it. The same is true for the air you paid to warm.


R-value offers a way of measuring your insulation’s effectiveness (a higher R-value means better insulation). For example, on a 28°F. day, heat loss from a residence set at 68°F could hit 2,464 Btu per hour even through an 80 ft. by 10 ft. exterior


wall packed with R-13 insulation. Now, reverse that situation: On a scorching day at 100°F. outside, the heat gain indoors will still reach 2,464 Btu per hour.


To save money, set your thermostat five degrees closer (higher in summer, lower in winter) to the outdoor temperature. This simple change could result in a savings of 90 watts per hour of electricity, or about 197 kilowatt-hours (kwh) in three months. At a national average of 10 cents per kwh, this adjustment keeps an extra $19.70 in your pocket.


If you are truly committed to lowering your bill and saving energy, I would encourage you to try these suggestions. You can also contact your friends at Choctaw Electric Cooperative and request a free home energy audit. This process takes place at your home so we can do a thorough check. It can take awhile, but once completed the process can save you money by uncovering sources of energy loss. We can suggest behavior changes and other improvements that will help you improve your energy efficiency, but in the end the decision rests with you.


In the meantime, adjust the thermostat. Keep blinds and drapes on the sunny side of your home closed in summer and open in winter. Find mysteriously “hot” or “cold” spots in the house and


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Tip of the Month


Keep energy efficiency in mind as you plan spring landscaping. Properly selected and planted trees, shrubs, and bushes can create a windbreak that lowers home heating bills in the winter and insulates your home year- round. Before you start, check on the right plants and techniques for your climate at EnergySavers.gov.


—US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Your home’s windows can help manage the interior temperature, whether you use natural ventilation, apply a reflective film, or simply shut the blinds during the hottest hours of the day.


solve them by installing gasket seals around outlets and weather stripping along doors and windows, replacing old windows, and upgrading insulation. When practical, adjust landscaping by planting trees and shrubs that will provide shade for your property in summer and sunlight in winter.


Weather doesn’t have to play havoc with electricity bills. There are a variety of tools, appliances, and resources available to solve all sorts of energy challenges, and a lot of options are inexpensive and simple to do.


John Drake is your co-op energy use specialist. For questions about your energy usage or how to save energy, please contact John Drake or


Mark Zachary at 800-780-6486, ext. 231.


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