Some like it hot.
For the rest of us, a summer heat wave means it’s time to hibernate. But cooling off in your air-conditioned home can cost you. Duke Energy has created ways for customers to stay on top of energy use and adjust.
Two alert programs are designed to tell customers about higher-than-usual energy consumption.
High Bill Alerts: When the weather is unseasonably warm (or cold), you’ll get a warning that your bill may be trending higher. You get these alerts before you get your bill so you have time to make adjustments before your bill comes.
“High Bill Alerts are a function of the customer’s historic energy usage behavior and how their home responds to changes in the weather,” said Bill Mann, Duke Energy’s manager of energy efficiency behavioral programs. “We use weather data and billing history – not current usage data – to determine who gets that alert.
“Let’s say it’s two weeks into the billing cycle and the temperature has been above normal,” Mann said. “If your bill is projected to be 30 percent and $30 higher than usual, you’ll get a mid-month alert telling you – and allowing you time to take action.”
The program has been in place for about 18 months. “Usage drops by 3 percent on average for the month when customers get a High Bill Alert,” Mann said. That’s compared to what a customer’s billing history indicates they would have spent that month.
High Bill Alerts are available to most residential customers with at least 12 months of service who are registered with our Online Services portal.
Usage Alerts. The program was introduced about a month ago and more than 450,000 customers are enrolled in Duke Energy Carolinas, Indiana and Kentucky service areas. Customers who have smart meters and an email on file will get this alert monthly. It is sent midway through the billing cycle and uses data gathered from the meter to tell the customer the current level of usage (in dollars and kilowatts) and a projected bill based on that pattern. The customer can choose email or text as their alert channel.
In addition, customers can choose a budget alert, where they set a dollar amount they want to track. The system will send them an alert when they reach 75 percent and 100 percent of that amount.
Duke Energy’s Director of Customer Solutions Pam Simmons does more than promote the program – she uses it herself.
“I want to know if my bill is going to be more than I’m expecting,” she said. “My son loves long, hot showers, and that can really run your energy bill up. So, I’ve set a $125 threshold and get notified if we hit that mark.”
Come this fall, the usage alerts will get even more specific; they’ll tell customers where their energy consumption is occurring by showing key areas of use (HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, “always on” and more).
Some may like it hot. But if they can’t stand the heat, they can get out of the kitchen. Seriously.
Energy experts recommend planning summertime meals that require minimal cooking. Cooking in the microwave and grilling outside are alternatives to heating up the oven. This summer, keep your cool … and save.
Tips for powering down
You’ve got the power to keep your costs down. Here are a few easy tips to keep energy use in check during the hottest time of the year.
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temps, the lower your energy bill will be.
- Close blinds and curtains on sunny days.
- Make sure to have your HVAC system serviced regularly.
- Do you have a whole-house fan? Use it to pull cool air into your home at night or in the early morning through open windows. Be sure to turn the fan off and shut the windows during the day.
- Use bathroom and kitchen fans to remove heat and humidity caused by showering and cooking. (And take short showers instead of baths to save even more year-round.)
- When you’re in a room with a ceiling fan, use it. You’ll feel cooler and be able to raise the thermostat by as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Run your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at night when it’s cooler. Run full loads. Consider air drying dishes and clothes to save even more.