With the Memorial Day weekend comes the unofficial start to the Minnesota summer. A few days later, on June 1, higher summer electric rates begin for Xcel customers and continue through September. (Lower winter rates are in effect from October through May.) Residential electric rates go up in the summer to correspond with higher demand, which is due in a large part to air conditioning. You may have also heard that Xcel recently received permission to raise their electric rates. More details about the general rate increase that can be found in our May 12 blog.
So, what options do you have to try to minimize the impact of higher summer rates and an overall rate increase? Here are some specific summer tips:
- Participate in Xcel’s Saver’s Switch Program. If you have central air conditioner and haven’t already signed up for this program, strongly consider it. You will save 15% on your June-September bills by allowing Xcel to have the ability to cycle your AC on and off during peak times. Most people barely notice it. If you have an electric water heater, also consider signing up for the Saver’s Switch for your electric water heater at the same time. It will save you another 2% year round.
- Use a programmable thermostat. Program the thermostat to only have air conditioning on when you are at home and to be off when you are away. CenterPoint Energy customers can receive a rebate for qualified purchases of a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are also provided to Xcel and/or CenterPoint Energy customers as part of an enhanced energy audit performed by the Energy Squad.
- Raise the temp at which your AC turns on. The Department of Energy recommends setting the temperature at 78 degrees. This allows you to be energy efficient and still comfortable.
- Use fans. A fan can make the temperature feel 4 degrees cooler.
- Manage passive heat. Closing your blinds or curtains during the day to keep out the hot sun and open windows in the evening to take advantage of cool breezes.