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How to keep predictably higher electricity bills down this year

Extreme heat combined with drought and war effects are driving electricity costs this summer.
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Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 10:43:15-04

As the heat increases, so does the need for electricity to cool our homes, and the prices can be astronomical. 

For some, it could be a choice between your power bill and your rent or mortgage.

The U.S. government predicts residential electricity costs will be nearly 5% higher this summer than last year.

"It's a huge increase and of course, this really has a tremendous impact on middle class and poor consumers because this is a big chunk of their monthly budget," said Ed Hirs, University of Houston energy fellow. 

Some of the factors in the soaring prices include the war in Ukraine driving up natural gas costs, a severe drought in the West and a national forecast of extreme heat. 

The midwest grid operator warns that rotating blackouts may be imposed on the hottest summer days. It’s a prospect Wisconsin hasn’t faced since the 1990s.

"What they're saying is they're telling companies like us that we may be shorter than past years as far as being able to meet peak need given a really, really hot summer," said Brendan Conway, We Energies spokesperson.

There are things you can do to try to keep your bills down.

"Let's start with your air conditioner because it is typically the biggest consumer of energy in your home," said Jill Hanks, Arizona public service spokesperson. "Be scheduling annual maintenance to make sure it is in tip-top shape and running efficiently."

Experts say you should change the unit's filter monthly, install programmable thermostats and unplug appliances you're not using them. And, if possible, upgrade the energy efficiency in older homes.

Low-income households can visit benefits.gov to get help with upgrade costs from the government.

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