This past January, Ameren had their electric rates unfrozen by the Illinois Legislature. Since before 2000, they had been frozen to help the consumer with expenses. That all changed in one day. Almost overnight, rates went up 50 to 400%. This was good for Ameren and its stockholders but bad for the consumer and the Illinois Legislature themselves.
Many small businesses had to let employees go or reduce their salaries. People on fixed incomes(retirees) had to make major decisions on expenses. Like the increase in gasoline, the increase in electricity has caused costs to rise in restaurants, theaters, groceries, and other products that consumers count on. It was also discovered that many of the members in both the Illinois House and Senate had received money from Ameren for their support in lifting the freeze. This has added to a lot of lost faith in the Illinois Legislature. It would appear that higher rates are here. I recently saw that rates have risen in other areas of the country, too.
Here are some ideas for reducing your electric bills.
. Turn off all lights during the daylight hours. If you have heavy drapes on your windows, open them up. Unless you need light to read, daylight itself should be good enough.
. Turn off all unnecessary night lights.
.Turn your air conditioner up by several degrees. Did you know that every degree higher reduces your energy usage by 2-3%?
. Open windows to let in fresh air and turn on low voltage electric fans to circulate the air.
. If no one is at your home during the day, think about getting a thermostat that has a timer. About an hour before you get home it automatically turns on your air conditioner. You can even use this for your furnace in the winter time.
. Change or wash your filters to your air conditioner regularly. Especially if you have pets in the home.
. If your house is exposed to direct sunlight, keep shades, drapes, curtains closed to keep the heat down.
. Set your thermostat between 76-78 degrees. If you have someone that likes to keep turning it down, put a lock box on it.
. Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL’s (compact fluorescent lights). They will cost more at the store but, can make for big savings over time.
. Read your energy bill closely. Many Electric companies will give you ideas on savings. Some companies give percentage discounts when you use less electricity. Consider Budget Billing. This is where your bill stays the same most of the year around but, they have a catch up month once or twice a year. This keeps unexpected surprises out of your budget.
. Lastly, turn off all items not in use. Many people leave their televisions, computers,DVD players,coffee pots on when they don’t use them. Turn off what you don’t use.
With the increase in electric rates across the nation, we need to start thinking about energy conservation more. We need to do this with our dependence on electricity as well as oil and gasoline. Some people have thought about recouping their loses in energy by buying stock in energy companies. While this might help your pocketbook in the future, it does little to help with the rising costs of energy. The key to lowering your costs in your electric bills is to reduce your energy use.
Nobody likes higher costs. However, it appears that they are here to stay and will continue to rise.