CAPITAL REGION, NY — As temperatures rise this summer, National Grid reminds customers that there are no-cost and low-cost methods of staying comfortable in the heat while reducing energy consumption and costs. These tips are even more important as the impact of global events on energy supply prices continues to have a bearing on household budgets.
One way customers can control their costs is using National Grid’s Budget Billing Plan. The plan helps customers afford their monthly energy costs all year long. Customers pay a monthly amount based on their average energy usage, spreading the costs across the course of time to provide a predictable monthly payment amount. We periodically review accounts and adjust payment amounts to keep customers on track if their usage increases or decreases. Participation is free of charge and can be discontinued at any time without penalty.
In addition, simple energy efficiency steps can reduce energy usage. Closing window drapes and blinds during the day can block the sun’s light and heat into your home. Running fans along with your air conditioning creates a windchill effect by distributing and circulating cold air throughout a room, allowing you to turn up your thermostat. Changing or cleaning the reusable filter in your air conditioner can improve airflow and efficiency.
National Grid also recommends taking the following steps to make your home more energy-efficient:
• Have your central air conditioner checked. Just like you have your furnace serviced and cleaned each fall, you should have your central air conditioning system checked. Professionals will perform a comprehensive examination on your outside condenser and inside fan to ensure your system is working at peak efficiency.
• Replace your air filter. Dirty air filters on central and room air conditioning systems can choke off the flow of air to your home’s ventilation system. Changing your filter as directed by the manufacturer not only permits air to flow freely, it helps your air conditioning run more efficiently.
• Vacuum your air intake vents and keep them clear. Dust builds up on your home’s air returns and a couple of minutes with a vacuum can keep the airflow moving. Move toys, furniture, and other objects away from the intake vent to keep air moving.
• Consider rearranging furniture near your thermostat or room air conditioner. Lamps and televisions radiate heat and if they are too close to the thermostat, your air conditioning could run more and longer than necessary to cool a room.
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED. Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient to use and emit more heat than an LED bulb.
• According to the US Department of Energy, LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.
• Consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to run your air conditioning on a schedule. Smart thermostats offer the ability to control your home’s temperature from your mobile device or computer. Preset your schedule, adjust temperatures remotely, and take full control of your cooling. Smart thermostats could lower your energy bills by up to $180 a year.
• Turn up the temperature on your thermostat. The lower you set your air conditioning temperature, the more costly it is to operate. For example, a 75-degree setting costs about 18% more than a 78-degree setting. Don’t compromise your comfort, but use this to test how cold you really need it.
• Run fans with your air conditioning. Oscillating or box fans near your air conditioning vents create an airflow like winter windchills, as cold air is circulated throughout the room.
• Close your window coverings. Ambient sunlight can heat a room, and drawing your curtains and blinds can reduce the sun’s heating of your home and keep your air conditioning from running more than necessary.
• Turn off lights when you’re not using them. Turning lights off when you’re not using them can help save money by reducing your electricity bills, extend the life of your light bulbs, and result in your buying bulbs less often.
• Think twice before starting your oven. Conventional and convection ovens can add unnecessary heat to your home, forcing your air conditioner to run unnecessarily. Keep the heat outside by using a grill or, if that’s not an option, consider using a microwave or slow cooker to do the job.
• Prep your home when you go on vacation. If there’s a road trip or beach vacation on your calendar, take a couple of extra steps such as turning up your thermostat to keep your air conditioning from running while no one is home. Unplug electronics with remote control or “instant on” features and save $4 a month.
Energy supply prices are set by the market, not National Grid.
To help reduce price volatility, the National Grid strategically buys energy supply and never marks up supply costs; customers pay what we pay. Customers also have the option to choose an alternate supplier for the energy National Grid delivers. Just as consumers can shop and compare prices before buying clothes, appliances or other services, we encourage customers to consider all available energy supply options and determine which one will best meet their needs.
National Grid also provides various options for customers who need help paying their bills. In addition, households receiving public assistance, supplemental security income, food stamps, or other public assistance or the elderly may qualify for Emergency HEAP grants, which have been extended through Aug. 31, 2022, or until funds run out. Customers eligible for HEAP will also qualify for the National Grid’s Energy Affordability Program.
National Grid Consumer Advocates also are available to work with low-income and vulnerable customers to find the affordability programs that best fits their needs. The company’s Consumer Advocates provided assistance to nearly 31,000 households in 2021. To speak with a Consumer Advocate, call 1-800-642-4272.
Additionally, National Grid offers a variety of services and rebates for renters, homeowners, and businesses. These include rebates on the installation of wi-fi-enabled thermostats, hot water pipe insulation, combination furnace-water heaters, and thermostatic radiator valves.