PHOENIX — The temperatures are rising across the Valley, which means our utility bills are going to skyrocket.
Most Arizonans just expect that if they want to stay cool, they must spend more in the summer.
But with inflation and budgets tightening, experts say it is easy to save money while saving yourself from the sweltering heat.
"Let's start with your air conditioner because it is typically the biggest consumer of energy in your home," said Jill Hanks with Arizona Public Service Company (APS). "Be scheduling annual maintenance to make sure it is in tip-top shape and running efficiently."
Hanks says it is also important to change your air filter monthly. "That helps with efficiency and will ultimately save you money," he added.
GET A FREE ENERGY ASSESSMENT FROM YOUR PROVIDER'S EXPERTS
You can always do things to save money, but the experts know best. So, take advantage of their knowledge and advice on how to make your home more energy efficient.
Both APS and Salt River Project (SRP) offer free energy assessments, where you can take one of their experts on a 'tour' of your home virtually "and they will tell you all the different ways that you can be saving money."
"They go area-by-area and analyze each appliance," said Casaundra Donahoe with SRP. "I would start there, because it’s very customized to your home and the different behaviors of you and your family."
APS says with its "Virtual Energy Check-Up" a certified expert will assess your home energy use and provide customized recommendations in real-time via a smartphone or tablet... then they will inform you on all savings opportunities.
You can also have someone physically come to your home and provide the assessment and report for $99.
"Smart thermostats are a great way to start saving money. They learn your habits when you're away or home...and are pre-programmed to know when to turn up the temperature when you're away," said Donahoe.
SRP estimates a smart thermostat can save you up to 10% on your energy bill for an entire year. The company has a program that allows customers to save on a new thermostat, as well as money on each bill if they already have one.
PRECOOL YOUR HOUSE BEFORE THE PEAK EVENING HOURS
Most customers in the Valley are on time-of-use plans, which involve high rates for the peak hours, typically between the hours of 3-7 p.m.
"It rewards customers for using electricity during off-peak hours, when electricity is much cheaper," said Hanks.
The key to saving money on the plan is pre-cooling your home.
"Customers who do it say they save hundreds of dollars, especially in the summertime," said Hanks. "They pre-cool their homes in the hours before the peak hours. Then, during the peak hours, they are able to turn that thermostat up and ride it out."
During those peak hours, every degree matters.
"For every degree you raise your thermostat you can save 2 to 3% on your cooling costs," said Hanks.
"Once the peak time starts, crank the thermostat back up so you can save some money," said Donahoe. "We’ve heard from families who have saved up to $200 a year by making small adjustments here and there."
You also want to avoid running your oven and dryer during peak hours, to use less energy and keep the heat from spreading throughout your home.
Make sure your house has the right windows and either blinds or shade from trees if the windows have direct sunlight.
"50% of heat that comes through your home comes through those windows," said Donahoe.
Lightbulbs also matter.
"Replace your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs," said Hanks. "LEDs emit 90% less heat and use 90% less electricity. The savings over the lifetime of one bulb is over 50 bucks."
The main advice from the experts: take at least 30 minutes, before the summer heat is in full swing, and plan out the ways you can save, then discuss them with your household.
If everyone is mindful, on the same page, and using the best technology... "It will save you much more than customers realize over the long term," said Donahoe.
For all the tips, tools, programs, rebates, and ways to save on your energy bill, visit: