CONSUMER ALERT: Cooling Off the Utility Bills
August 9, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Even though this summer has not been as hot and dry as prior years, utility costs and rates are going up as utility companies invest and improve their infrastructure. This may cause bills to be higher than expected and these expenses can become quite overwhelming and put some Arkansans in a dangerous situation.
“Rising utility bills can be just as miserable as baking in the hot sun,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “There are a number of effective and inexpensive ways to save money while making sure you and your families stay cool.”
Here are some tips to avoid high-cost bills:
- Invest in making your home or business as energy efficient as possible. Local electric and gas utility companies may be able to offer helpful advice. In addition, the Arkansas Energy Office provides energy efficiency tips at EnergyEfficiencyArkansas.org.
- Consider level or “flat” billing options, which allow you to spread the cost of higher monthly bills over the course of the year. Be careful to read the details of your utility’s flat- or level-billing plan. With a level billing structure, you will pay the same amount each month, making budgeting more predictable and allowing you to avoid spikes in charges during seasons when you use more water or are running your air conditioner. Flat rates are typically estimated using your historical usage data. This may result in having a higher electric bill during the winter season than you would normally have because the cost of running your air conditioner in the summer will be spread throughout the entire year.
- Make sure to change filters monthly on heating and air-conditioning units. Dirty or clogged filters slow down the cooling process and cause the system to operate inefficiently.
- Keep interior lights turned off during the day, and consider changing light bulbs to higher-efficiency light bulbs such as L.E.D.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed to keep out the sun’s heat.
- Remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Turn ceiling fans off when a room is not occupied.
The Attorney General through her Consumer Utility Rate Advocacy Division represents the interests of Arkansas’s utility customers in front of the Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission actively working to keep rates low and reasonable and to promote energy efficiency.
In addition, some Arkansans may qualify for the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which offers assistance in paying utility bills. Most of the money is allocated to low-income elderly consumers and individuals with disabilities, but also to other eligible consumers as funding becomes available. Local community action agencies have more details on the program. Visit ACAAA.org for more information.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.