Mild temperatures cool off Texas electricity prices in August
Sweating through weeks of solid 90-degree heat, you probably didn’t realize you saved on your electric bill last month.
But cooler temperatures through August cut the price tag for Texas electricity consumers, compared to scorching Augusts in the previous two years, the Energy Information Administration reported this week.
Normally, Texans crank up their air conditioning the most in August, but last month lacked the long heat waves that hammered the state’s electric grid in 2011 and 2012, sending peak prices way below what the state’s electricity consumers have seen in years past.
ERCOT: Texas grid can handle winter power demand
Two years ago, a long August heat wave drove electricity prices to more than $600 per megawatt-hour, and in 2012, a short-lived spike in temperatures pushed prices to peak at $250 per megawatt-hour. But Texas prices hit a high of $90 per megawatt-hour this August.
Texas isn’t alone in saving on power this summer. The EIA also said U.S. electricity sales scooted up 3.4 percent in the first half of 2013, but cooler temperatures throughout the third quarter could dampen home electricity use for the year. In the third quarter, sales dipped 1.9 percent compared to the same period last year.
Also on FuelFix:
14 ways to slim your power bill this summer
apdk / Flickr
Angle blinds up: TXU Energy says that angling horizontal blinds so sunlight streams up can reduce the heat coming in and provide free natural light. When closed and lowered, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent.
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Insulate lights: Canned or recessed lights can be a big source of air leaks. Selecting “IC” (insulation contact) models or installing approved covers over non-IC models can stop that.
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Use a fan: You can raise your thermostat setting by up to 4 degrees and not feel a difference if you also run a ceiling fan. Fans only make you feel cooler, though, so turn them off when you’re not in the room.
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Lower humidity: It takes longer to cool a humid home. The ideal humidity level is less than 60 percent in the summer.
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Moderate the thermostat: Lowering your thermostat setting does not cool your home more quickly. Many factors affect how quickly an indoor space cools. Thermostat set points are not among them.
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Check your water heater: Water heaters are factory set at 140 degrees. Lowering that to 120 degrees provides comfortably hot water and less energy consumption.
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Use a programmable thermostat: Most Americans with programmable thermostats don’t program them. New Energy Star® ratings for programmable thermostats may consider ease of use and online access.
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Seal your windows: If you want to save money this summer, you should start by looking for the places where you are losing money. Gaps between windows and doors are some of the most likely spots for energy loss.
Michael Paulsen / Houston Chronicle
Get the right A/C unit: Air conditioners are designed for specific sizes, and you can waste energy by having one too big or too small. You should make sure your unit is right for your home.
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Switch your light bulbs: You can save money by switching out old incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. The modern light bulbs, which do have a different glow, can save you money on your electric bill.
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Change your air filter: A dirty air filter can make your air conditioner be less efficient, and it can ultimately cost you money on your electric bill.
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Turn off lights: Many people forget to turn off lights and fans after leaving a room. By turning them off, you can save yourself some money on that electric bill.
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Buy energy-efficient appliances: They may cost more at the store, but energy-efficient appliances can save you money on your electric bill.
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Unplug unused appliances: You can save money by unplugging phone chargers or other kitchen appliances when they aren't in use.