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Local power company: Beat the heat and save a dime

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GREENVILLE, Pitt County - Greenville Utilities issued information on ways you can save on your power bill in the midst of the dog days of summer.

Temperatures have been up this summer and that's caused air conditioners to work overtime to beat the heat. According to the State Climate Office of North Carolina, the statewide temperature average during the first six months of the year ranks as the 4th-warmest first half of the year since 1895. The only warmer years to this point were in 2012, 1990, and 1949.

High temperatures and humidity can account for high energy and water usage, and that can mean higher utility bills. The outside temperatures force even the most energy-efficient homes to consume more power for cooling, and thirsty lawns soak up more water from irrigation systems. Using energy and water wisely is critical, especially when temperatures soar.

Depending upon how much you used your air conditioning or watered your lawn, you could see a significant increase in your utility bill. How much is hard to say. It depends upon billing cycles and thermostat habits.

Bills vary because of different lifestyles, the age and capacity of your air conditioning unit, the condition of your ducts, the size of your home, air "leaks," where you set your thermostat, etc. Even a two or three-degree difference in the thermostat setting can make a dramatic difference in the amount of energy used.

Here are some tips to help decrease your electric usage in hot weather, and lower your bill:

-- Set your thermostat for 78 degrees, or as high as comfortable. Each degree difference can significantly raise or reduce your cooling costs.

-- To be comfortable at higher temperature settings, use fans along with your air conditioning. A typical ceiling fan or box fan uses less than a penny an hour to operate.

-- Replace or clean filters monthly. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and significantly reduce a system's efficiency.

-- Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air conditioner thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances and causes the air conditioning to run longer than necessary, using more energy.

-- Check for duct leakage in the attic. It could be allowing 120 degree attic air into your system, making your air conditioning work even harder.

-- Limit vehicle washing. Use a hose nozzle and turn off the water when washing your car to save more than one hundred gallons of water. Try to wash your car on the lawn and not the pavement so excess water can return to the ground and not evaporate.

-- Don't use a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways. Use a broom and save up to 80 gallons of water every time.

-- Limit lawn and shrubbery watering to that which is necessary for plant survival. Water lawns before the peak demand hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For more energy and water saving tips, go to guc.com or schedule a free home energy audit by calling 252-551-1521.

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