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How to keep your power bill down during this searing heat

The heat index has reached triple digits in Jacksonville.
The heat index has reached triple digits in Jacksonville.

Steamy summer temperatures are pushing power bills higher too. JEA has tips for beating the heat and keeping your utility bills down.

Air conditioners consume about 40% to 60% of energy that electricity customers use, according to JEA. The utility recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer and 5 to 10 degrees higher when you leave your house. The slight temperature increase when you leave will save energy and keep your house cool enough for when you return.

Brian Pippin, director of customer experience at JEA, spoke Wednesday on First Coast Connect to discuss how to properly use a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.

“Most HVAC systems are not going to be able to cool your home more than a 20-degree differential from the outside temperature no matter what you do,” Pippin said. “If it's 74 inside your home and the temperature outside is 94 or higher, your AC will literally never shut off.”

JEA also suggests changing your heating and cooling system air filter every month. A dirty air filter makes your system work harder, which consumes more energy.

Instead of using the air conditioner, Pippin said using ceiling or table fans and shading windows that receive direct sunlight can be an effective way to relieve heat as well.

“It costs pennies to run a fan versus your HVAC system,” Pippin said. “When a fan blows across your skin, it's going to make you feel 3 to 5 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature in the room.”

JEA also recommends limiting going in and out of the house repeatedly, using the dishwasher with full loads using cold water, and avoiding using large cooking appliances like ovens or stoves. Microwaves, crockpots and outdoor grills can offer a cooler, more energy efficient alternative.

Heat and humidity around the July 4th weekend brought feels-like temperatures of 105 to 110 degrees. Although this week will bring some rain, highs will remain in the mid to upper 90s.

JEA also has several water conservation tips:

  • Inspect sprinkler heads. A broken one can waste 25,000 gallons of water in six months. 
  • Connect pipes and hoses. A small leak can waste up to 6,300 gallons of water a month. 
  • Direct spray to your landscape, not your sidewalk. 
  • Follow watering days as mandated by St. Johns River Water Management District. Learn about watering day restrictions.

For people struggling to conserve water, JEA offers water conservation kits, which include water-saving products like shower heads and garden hose nozzles. Current JEA Water customers can order a kit online. The website also includes details about all the products in the kit.

JEA also provides free in-home assessments to help customers reduce their energy and water usage. Energy auditors conduct home inspections to determine whether behavioral or equipment changes are needed. Customers can call 904-665-6000 to schedule an appointment.

Joshua Pantano is a summer intern at WJCT News. He was previously a staff writer for the Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student-run newspaper, and a newscaster and reporter for WICB and VIC Radio, Ithaca College’s student-run radio stations.