The Cost of Staying Cool

August 8, 2007 - Posted at 5:23 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR-"A lot of people are getting more disconnect notices this year than in previous years."

Kim McClendon of Crowley's Ridge Development Council say due to the recent heat wave more and more of her clients are asking for energy assistance.

Those like Walter Burnett who is disabled and on a fixed income says it's hard to even afford turning the air on.

"I went down there Monday and paid like 53 dollars, but they said my total was 132 dollars. So, I came down here because they said they were going to shut it off," said Burnett.

And while City Water and Light hasn't raised their rates in several years, they say the more folks crank up the air to stay cool, the higher their bill will rise.

"There is going to be more usage in the summertime. So, the bills are typically going to be higher in the summertime," said Jake Rice of CWL.

They say last year energy usage peaked at 269 MegaWatts.

On Tuesday of this week, we set the record for the year at 266 MegaWatts of power used.

"With the heat wave that we are looking at for the next few days, we could very well top that and last years peak," said Rice.

But City Water and Light says they have options for customers as well.

"We do have a levelized billing plan. We can help people have a levelized billing plan so they can plan and have the same bill every month," said Rice.

And for those like Burnett, every penny counts.

"Since it's been hot like it is now, it's been pretty hectic. It seems like last month it might have been a little lower, but this month it's going up higher and higher. I don't know how high it's going to be next month, now that I'm running the air conditioning all the time," said Burnett.

If you qualify for utility assistance, you can stop by Crowley's Ridge Development Center on Mondays and Wednesdays.

They are open from 8:30 a.m. Until 3:30 p.m.

They say you will need to bring a disconnect notice from your utility provider, proof of income from the month before, and documentation of child support if you have children.

You can contact Crowley's Ridge at 935-8610.

-If you would like to talk to City Water and Light about their levelized billing plans or other ways you can manage your utility bill, call their customer service line at 930-3300.

Energy Saving Tips:

1.  Keep your thermostat set between 72 and 74 degrees.

2. Turn on your ceiling fans. This helps circulate air more evenly throughout your home.

3. If you have an old thermostat, change it out to a digital one. They are much more accurate.

4. Check all windows and doors to make sure they are sealed tight.

5. Check your air conditioning unit itself to make sure it's running at it's peak performance.

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