Austin Energy summer electric rates begin with June electric bills. The rates, effective for June, July, August and September bills, are slightly higher than rates paid during the eight non-summer months, and under the new rate structure implemented in October 2012, bills will be higher than previous summers. Austin Energy and other utilities across warmer regions of the country charge higher summer rates to recover the true additional cost of sizing the electric system and generation to meet the peak demands of summer air conditioning use.
Of the total electricity used by the average Austin Energy customers, more than 40 percent or almost half is used during summer months. And air conditioning accounts for more than half of summer electric bills illustrated in the chart below:
Summer rates' effect on bill
More than 80 percent of Austin Energy residential customers average energy use is 2,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or less during summer months. At 2,000 kWh of usage, a customer can expect an electric bill that is $44 higher than for the same usage last summer under the old rates. By contrast, 85 percent of customers use 1,000 kWh or less during the eight non-summer months which resulted in a $4 per month or less increase due to the new rates.
Simple tips save money
Here are some simple tips to keep you and your home cooler in the most cost effective manner:
Avoid creating heat in the home from stovetop cooking or baking and using appliances such as your dryer during the hottest part of the day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Use a microwave oven as much as possible instead of the stove or oven during the hottest part of the day.
Close drapes and blinds on windows that get direct sunlight during the day.
Use fans in combination with your air conditioner. Fans blowing directly on you can make you feel up to four degrees cooler. Turn fans off when not in the room.
Turn off any unneeded lights. Replace inefficient incandescent lights with efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LED). Incandescent lights generate 90 percent heat and only 10 percent light — creating more heat in your home which makes your AC run more.
Clean or replace air conditioning filters once a month. Dirty filters make the air conditioner work harder and longer.
Use programmable thermostats. Programmable thermostats can reduce energy use by as much as 20 percent. Austin Energy provides an $85 rebate for the purchase of an approved smart thermostat and participating in the Utility’s smart thermostat program.
Where practical, unplug or use power strips to turn off electricity to televisions, stereos, DVD players, coffee makers, printers, phone chargers and other appliances and electronics that continue to draw power when in the off position. Known as phantom loads or vampires, these appliances and devices can account for 10 percent or more of the electricity use in your home.
“These tips truly work and used regularly can make a substantial difference in the size of summer electric bills,” said Debbie Kimberly, Austin Energy Vice President of Distributed Energy Services.
Five tiers reward lower energy use
The new rate system implemented Oct. 1, 2012, rewards customers who reduce their energy use. For City of Austin residents, the rates are organized in a five-tier system with lower rates of lower monthly energy consumption. The rate increases incrementally for every 500 kWh used, with the maximum summer rate of 11.4 cents per kWh applied for monthly electricity use above 2,500 kWh. Austin Energy customers that live outside the City of Austin pay rates organized in a three-tier system with a maximum summer rate of 9.1 cents per kWh.
Customers can lower their electricity costs significantly by reducing their consumption into a lower-priced tier. For example, customers who use 1,750 kWh during a summer month can save $50.25 on their electric bill by reducing their electricity use by 500 kWh to 1,250 kWh. The total savings on the entire electric bill is $73.53 because other charges are also reduced due to the lower energy use.
Residential Base Electric Rates (Energy Charge)
Rebates available for energy improvements
If a home is more than 10 years old, it may need energy improvements. About one-third of all homes leak as much as 27 percent of their air conditioning and heating into the attic because of cracked and leaking ducts that need to be sealed. The average older home also has only 3 to 4 inches of insulation in the attic. Austin Energy recommends 12 to 13 inches of insulation or R-38. Today’s air conditioners also are 50 percent more efficient than older models.
Austin Energy provides rebates that pay about 20 percent of the costs for these and other improvements. Residents can also choose to finance the improvements with low-interest loans made available by Austin Energy from an outside lender.