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Conserve electricity, conserve your savings

The holiday season may have left your wallet in a pinch, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Payback of debt can be brutal, but there can be a “saving” grace.

One way to reserve a little cash is to cut back on a few of the utilities. One of the most convenient utilities to trim down on is power consumption. People can save greatly on their electric/gas bill by doing a few simple things.

The rate for electricity is approximately 0.085 cents per kilowatt-hour. Although this sounds like a small amount, it is startling to see how fast these charges accumulate.

The appliance that consumes the most energy on average is the air conditioning/heating unit. By setting the thermostat at a moderate temperature, energy bills can be reduced. Air conditioning/heating units cost anywhere from $.07 to $.41 per hour when set at a moderate temperature.

Jacqueline Hines, a TECO Energy Analyst, recommends setting the thermostat at 78 degrees or above in warmer weather or 70 degrees or below in cooler weather.

TECO estimates that while cooling, every degree closer to 78 results in an average savings of 6 to 8 percent. Likewise, when heating, setting the thermostat at 70 or lower will result in savings of approximately of 3 to 5 percent. As long as the linens are up to it, even greater savings can be achieved by setting the thermostat ten degrees cooler overnight. On average, this will produce savings on heating costs between 10 and 20 percent, but remember, one will have to get out of bed eventually. Once the weather heats up, the opposite approach will also produce savings.

“I like to keep my apartment cool, but during the day when I am not there I turn the thermostat up. There is no need to pay for the energy that you are consuming if you can’t be there to enjoy it,” said Murphy Campbell, a resident of a two-bedroom apartment in Tampa.

TECO recommends that heating and cooling systems are maintained and adjusted annually to keep them operating at their greatest efficiency. A simple and affordable task for the average consumer is simply replacing the air filter every month. This keeps the air cleaner and allows the heating and cooling system to operate efficiently. Another simple operation is actually turning off the system to conserve energy. This is only recommended when outside temperatures are not at extremes and the residence is going to be unoccupied for four or more hours.

Ceiling fans can also help with cooling costs. The thermostat can be set two to four degrees warmer when ceiling fans are in use. Of course, ceiling fans should only be used in occupied rooms.

The second largest consumer of energy in the home is the water heater. Typically, factory settings for water are between 160 to 180 degrees. This heats enough water to do the dishes, a load of laundry and still have plenty left for a hot bath. By removing a panel on the side of the water heater, a turn of a screwdriver can lower the thermostat to 120 to 140 degrees depending on how much hot water is necessary.

For those who are not permitted to perform any modifications to their water heater, a simple call to maintenance can resolve the issue. This simple measure could mean savings of anywhere from 2 to 10 percent on water heating costs. Also, savings of 5 to 10 percent can be achieved by installing flow-restricting devices on faucets and showerheads.

The refrigerator is the third largest consumer of power in the home.

“When I first moved into my apartment my fridge was set at the coolest level. After my first TECO bill, I decided to make some changes. I included changing my thermostat in my fridge,” Campbell said.

Using moderate energy savings measures will save money. Many of the energy practices mentioned are simple enough to be practiced without any difficulty and at little to no cost. The energy savings are immediate and so are the financial savings.

Information from the brochure “The Power of Choice is Yours” distributed by TECO was used in this report.