Texas Heat Drives Up Electricity, Water Bills

Experts offer simple ways to save

The Texas heat has driven a lot of us inside. And, as a result, that has driven up our electric and water bills.

According to those in the energy business there are some simple ways to save some significant money.

Solutions like turning off the lights when you leave a room and keeping the blinds drawn during the high heat of a summer day can result in significant savings, according to Leticia Castellanos, a Vice President of Stream Energy.

In addition, people with older homes can do themselves a big favor by checking the weather stripping around the windows and doors.

“A good test is to put a $1 bill in the door and close it. If you can easily slide the bill out, you are also letting a lot of the cold air out and the hot air in, too,” Castellanos said.

Castellanos recommended people to routinely maintain their HVAC systems (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) by changing out the filter inside and by cleaning off the dirty coils on the outside unit.

“Clean equals efficient,” Castellanos said.

People might want to consider unplugging what Castellanos called “energy vampires” that are in their homes – televisions, kitchen appliances including coffee makers and toasters, computers – and can draw a substantial amount of power even if they are not turned on or being used.

Another strategy Castellanos recommended is to lower the temperature of your water heater. Even a 10-degree reduction can result in a five percent savings on an energy bill.

While you are at it, Castellanos recommended washing clothes by using cold water, because it uses more electricity to produce hot water.

As for water bills, Texas Agrilife Specialist Dotty Woodson noted that as much as 14 percent of water use can often be attributed to leaks, including something as simple as a running toilet.

Woodson pointed to sprinkler systems for people’s yards as a major area where water is routinely wasted.

A well-run system is a great investment, according to Woodson. But one that sprays more water out into the street than onto your lawn can waste a lot of water and money.

Also, Woodson noted that people too often over water their lawns, assuming that more water is always better. And she recommended an old school tactic to determine whether your grass needs a drink or not.

“We can actually stick a screwdriver into the soil like you stick a toothpick into a cake to tell if it’s don or not. Toothpick comes out with cake on it you know it is not done. If you stick a screwdriver in the soil and it comes out with mud on it you know it is still wet,” Woodson said.

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