How Can You Control Your Cooling Costs? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/7/03

How Can You Control Your Cooling Costs?

As soon as this July, Xcel customers could be paying 8% more every month. In terms of dollars and cents, that means about $5 more a month on your bill. Before Xcel can do anything, the Public Utility Commission must approve the increase. Xcel says even with an increase they will still have lower prices than chief competitor, Lubbock Power & Light, who raised their rates 14% last week.

If Xcels energy gets state approval for the hike, here's how the two company's in Lubbock will compare. The average house in Lubbock using LP&L is paying about $82 a month. Excel energy is requesting a rate increase that will have their customers paying about $67 monthly. That represents a 23% difference.

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Both utilities point to rising natural gas prices as the main reason for the increase. While surges in fuel cost are mostly out of your control, there are steps you can take to save money. Plus, electric companies in Lubbock say there is a way to know in advance what you will pay every month, with no surprises. It's called budget billing or level billing and it's a way for you to regulate your energy bill all year long. Couple that with some simple things you can do in your home to save and you can control your cost.

For example when you leave for the day, turn your air conditioner up a few degrees and leave your fan on for circulation.

"If you have direct sunlight coming through your windows like these and I usually do this in the mornings all you do is close them and it will reflect the light back out and the heat back out of the room," says Curtis Corder, Sales Account Executive for Xcel Energy.

Corder also says you should also shut your fire place damper, because on windy days it will suck air out of your house.

One more tip, Corder has for inside your home is to use ceiling fans when you can to help circulate the air, they use less electricity.

As for the outside, Corder says to take advantage of your trees, the shade they provide can save you about $200 a year. Your best bet for regulating is level billing.

"Level billing the advantage is that we take the highs and lows of your bill in an average year and we smooth it out and set a fixed amount, so in the months where it's higher we just wait and collect it later when it's less. If your bills are $100 in the summer months and $50 in the winter months we average it out and you'll pay about $75 year round," Corder said.

Level billing is really beneficial to people trying to follow a budget or relying on a fixed income.

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