Tools unveiled to manage utility costs with hot, dry summer ahead

June 29, 2018

Austin utility customers today were urged to take advantage of energy- and water-saving tools to help manage their utility bills. Forecasters expect hotter and dryer than normal weather for the rest of the summer.

Austin Energy and Austin Water have teamed up to launch a Summer Savings campaign to help people manage their utility costs, which are driven largely by the hot and dry conditions of summer. The months of June through September account for 45 percent of all the electricity used by residents, officials said at a news briefing today at Austin City Hall.

“Weather drives how much electricity and water are used, and that use drives the cost of utility bills,” said Deborah Kimberly, Austin Energy Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions and Corporate Communications. “This is the time of year when air conditioners and water sprinklers work overtime, and the costs of that often show up on your utility bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Both Austin Energy and Austin Water have ways to help customers have affordable and reliable utility bills.”

Daryl Slusher, Assistant Director for Environmental Affairs and Conservation at Austin Water said, “Austin residents have made great gains on water conservation over the last decade, but now water usage is starting to rise again. We urge citizens to join us in maintaining a strong focus on conservation as we head into the hottest and driest part of the Central Texas summer. Conserving water becomes even more important as climate change brings more extreme weather.”

Austin meteorologist Mark Murray noted that the average temperature for May was the warmest on record for Austin and the average for June is running well above average. Murray said the long-range outlook calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall through at least the end of September. Meteorologists predict up to 40 to 50 days of at least 100-degree heat in the Austin area this summer.

The two city departments displayed data showing that electric and water use increases on days when temperatures rise and rainfall is scarce.

To manage their electric and water bills, Austinites can download Austin Energy’s web app and the Austin Water Dropcountr app. The Austin Energy web app lets you monitor daily energy use and sign up to receive alerts when you approach a higher-priced billing tier. Austin Water’s Dropcountr app creates a customized water use profile for your household and gives tips for saving water.

Austin Energy and Austin Water also announced the Direct Install program, to make sure everyone has access to certain resource efficiency tools. The utility will facilitate the delivery of LEDs and low-flow water devices to single and multifamily homes in low-income areas.

The top five water-saving tips are:

  1. Water your lawn on your assigned day and times.
  2. Clean your driveway or sidewalk with a broom, not a hose. 
  3. Wash your car at a commercial car wash that recycles water. This saves hundreds of gallons of water when compared to washing your car at home.
  4. Adjust sprinklers so that only your lawn is being watered.
  5. Use drip irrigation for bedded plants, shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots.

And here are the top five energy-saving tips:

  1. Change your AC filter every month in the summer. This helps with air flow and quality.
  2. Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when possible. Every degree higher can decrease your bill by 3 percent.
  3. Unplug chargers. Turn off power strips when not in use. Electronics plugged in while “off” can account for up to 10 percent of home energy use.
  4. Keep curtains and blinds drawn on windows hit by direct sunlight, which can quickly raise indoor temperatures 5-10 degrees.
  5. Point fans in your direction to make you feel 2-4 degrees cooler. Turn them off when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.

The summer savings campaign features the new web pages austinenergy.com/go/summersavings and austintexas.gov/summersavings with tips to help customers save money on utility bills all year. The campaign also includes print, radio, outdoor and television advertising as well as news and social media initiatives.

Four community outreach meetings are being scheduled in areas with high use. Utility staff will provide information on managing utility bills at the meetings. Two scheduled so far are:

  • In Northwest Austin at the Spicewood Springs Branch Library at 8637 Spicewood Springs Road, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 23.
  • In Southwest Austin at the Will Hampton Branch Library in Oak Hill at 5125 Convict Hill Road from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 31.

 

About Austin Energy
Austin Energy, the City of Austin’s electric utility, serves more than 475,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents in Greater Austin. The utility’s mission — to safely deliver clean, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service — has guided Austin Energy in powering the community and supporting the region’s growth since 1895. As a publicly owned utility, Austin Energy contributes more than $109 million annually to support important City services such as streetlights, parks, libraries and public safety. For more information about Austin Energy, visit austinenergy.com.

About Austin Water
For more than 100 years, Austin Water has been committed to providing safe, reliable, high quality, sustainable and affordable water services to our customers. Austin Water consistently ranks among the best in the country when it comes to water quality. For more information, visit austinwater.org.

Last Updated: 6/29/18

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