Customers learn to keep energy bills low in high heat

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A high of 96 degrees on Sunday was enough to put part of South Mississippi under a heat advisory. As temperatures rise, so are electric bills. An energy efficiency fair helped home and businesses owners figure out how to stay cool for less money.

Summer is the time of year that South Mississippians may feel they have to choose between keeping their homes cool and keeping their energy bills affordable.

"Even though I take precautions and do various things around the house to try to keep it low, it's just been so hot," said Maria Nichols, a homeowner. "It's hard to do."

Mississippi Power put on an energy efficiency fair to help make saving money on energy easier. Energy experts passed out free CFL bulbs and explained how the setting on the thermostat accounts for 50 percent of the power bill.

"What it boils down to is the habits of the customer," said Tomeka Durr, a residential energy specialist for Mississippi Power. "If you're accustomed to setting your thermostat on 75 degrees and we recommend 78 degrees that's a big difference there."

Experts said homeowners can also reduce cost by switching to energy efficient appliances. They also passed out advise for businesses and other customers like hospitals and schools.

Jacord Williamson's company does assessment on commercial buildings.

"Schools spend more money on energy than they do on text books, computers, teacher salaries but they don't have to," Williamson said.

"They can reduce their energy up to 10 percent per year," said Williamson. "If you think about it, 70 to 80 percent of energy used in schools is for comfort conditions. So if you reduce it 10 percent in a school system that has a $2 million a year utility bill, you're saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on energy."

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