Trying to stay cool during a heat wave probably means you’re using more energy at home, and that can result in a higher bill.
If you haven’t signed up for an equal payment plan to get a predictable monthly bill, there are some things you can do to keep tabs on your energy use – and lower your bill. By monitoring your energy use, you can escape a surprise when the bill comes.
3 tips for understanding your bill
● Check the number of days in your billing cycle. Most bills are for 30 days, but there are times when the billing cycle is shorter or longer. If there are more days in the bill, it could be higher.
● Look at “average kilowatt-hour” (kWh) use per day. At first glance your bill may look higher, but if your average use is similar to the same time last year or in a month with similar extreme temps, it’s a normal bill.
● If you have a smart meter, check online to see if a daily usage analysis tool is available. Smart meters collect usage information by the hour, so checking spikes throughout the month – by day and even hour – can show what appliances and behaviors are increasing your bill.
10 ways to avoid billing surprises
The best way to avoid billing surprises is to track your use. Duke Energy customers who have a smart meter can sign up for a Usage Alert. Similar to data alerts you get from your cellphone company, you can set a budget amount for your monthly energy bill and receive notices when you are approaching your limit.
● Replace standard bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED). LEDs are more efficient than regular bulbs, while giving off the same amount of light.
● Have the HVAC system checked to maintain performance. Duke Energy offers qualified customers rebates to help offset the cost of replacing older units with energy-efficient ones. Use finditduke.com to find a certified contractor.
● Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes an HVAC system work harder, which uses more energy.
● Set your thermostat as high as comfortable. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy bill will be.
● Close blinds and curtains on sunny days.
● If 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. 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.)
● By using a ceiling fan, 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.
To help manage your energy use, Duke Energy offers assistance programs and services, including:
● Cooling Assistance Program in the Carolinas assists the handicapped, elderly and low-income families with energy costs associated with extreme summer temperatures.
● Helping Home Fund offers free assistance for income-qualified customers in North Carolina to make their homes more energy efficient. Customers receive a home energy assessment and assistance to help save on energy bills.
● Equal Payment Plan makes managing your cash flow easier by providing predictable monthly payments for customers in the Carolinas. Budget Billing is available for Duke Energy’s customers in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
● Energy Neighbor Fund for Duke Energy Progress customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida helps eligible individuals and families cover home energy bills.
● Fan-Heat Relief Program helps senior citizens in the Carolinas with cooling.
● Eligible homeowners in the Carolinas and Midwest and Florida can get a free home energy assessment, which includes an Energy Efficiency Starter Kit containing LEDs, an energy-efficient showerhead, switch and outlet energy seals.