By SEAN ROWLEY
Among those who pay utility bills, there are two times of year when they may dread opening their billing statements – summer and winter.
The consequence of keeping comfortable during the year's middle months is numbers turning on the electric meter.
"Naturally, people are always concerned with the cost of electricity," said Glen Clark, member services representative for Lake Region Electric Cooperative. "That basically comes down to cooling and heating air and, to some extent, heating water. People don't call us to complain that their light bulbs are using too much electricity."
While working near the intersection of Highway 82 and East Murrel Road, Reece Cookson of the Tahlequah Public Works Authority said summertime means more assignments for the service crews.
"A lot more maintenance is needed everywhere," he said. "That's what we are doing right now."
While the utility services may be on heightened alert to spot maintenance needs in the summer, Clark said a cooler summer has eased demand for electricity below what would be expected in July.
"It is pretty simple that outside air temperature dictates electricity demand," he said. "I was watching the news a couple of days ago and it said our high that day was 91 degrees, as opposed to 111 a year ago. We haven't had the extreme heat of the last couple of years."
The hot time of year is not over, however. Clark said September bills are often the highest, reflecting the temperatures of August, adding that electric customers can take immediate and inexpensive steps to reduce electricity costs.
"Certainly, this time of year the air conditioners are going all the time, so people need to keep their filters clean," he said. "They need to be replaced every 30 days. I would also suggest there is a benefit to raising the thermostat. I used to keep mine at 65, but now I keep it at 72 and it saves some money."
Clark said purchasing the proper climate control appliances can easily pay for itself over time.
"When it is time to replace air units, I really encourage people to buy the most efficient equipment they can afford," he said. "They could be eligible for rebates the LREC offers on efficient heating and cooling units."
Efficiency relies on maintaining what Clark called "the air envelope" within a structure.
"In your home you do whatever you can to keep outside air out," he said. "The air inside is the expensive air, and you do all you an to keep it in. Buying efficient units is half the battle, but the other half is caulking, weatherstripping, insulation. I understand that some people are limited in what they can do. They may live in mobile homes which can't make use of much insulation, but they might be surprised what $100 worth of caulk can do."
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