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Rural Missouri Magazine

Take control of your electric bill

AMEC executive vice president Barry Hart
by Barry Hart

Have you seen the amount of electricity you use shoot up this summer because of how hot it has been? That might be a good sign you need to practice some energy efficiency before winter comes along.

The energy experts at Missouri’s electric co-ops tell me now is one of the best times to “take control” of your electric bill and save some money. Installing storm doors, adding insulation, caulking leaky windows and sealing holes in foundation walls is a lot easier now than it will be when the winter wind blows.

Your electric cooperative wants to help you become more energy efficient with information on what your home needs, how to go about making improvements and perhaps offering you a rebate that will help with the cost of more-efficient appliances.

A few years ago, Associated Electric Cooperative saw demand for electricity rising at a pace that would soon require additional generation to be built. To meet this demand, they have purchased the entire output of four Missouri-based wind farms and added natural gas generation plants.

But they also recognized an opportunity to help members use electricity more efficiently. For this reason, they invested millions of dollars into a six-year effort to help members use electricity wisely.

If you remember the 1970s when President Carter put on a sweater and asked us to lower our thermostats, you might think we are once again being asked to give up our creature comforts in order to cut electricity use. But that’s not necessarily the case today.

Today’s appliances do the same work for far less money than their predecessors. An Energy Star-rated refrigerator, for example, can quickly pay for itself, especially if your old one was made in the 1940s by Norge or International Harvester!

New technology offers options for reducing electric bills without the pain. And even better, your electric co-op wants to help with the cost of upgrading. Through Associated’s Take Control & Save program, most of Missouri’s electric cooperatives are offering rebates on energy-saving appliances. Citizens Electric, which is not part of the Associated system, also offers a similar program to help its members and will even haul off the old refrigerator.

Before you start your energy-efficiency plan, consider having a home energy audit. An energy audit will show you where to put your dollars to get the best return on your investment.

The energy audit might show where insulation is missing or has settled, allowing the heat or cold to enter your home. It will show whether doors and windows are doing their jobs, or if it would be beneficial to replace appliances.

Whether you do an energy audit or not, talk to your cooperative about any appliance rebates they might offer. Every co-op has different programs that they offer and what you must do to qualify, so your first step should be contacting your local office for the latest information.

You can also log on to TakeControlAndSave.coop or in the case of Citizens Electric, www.citizenselectriccorp.com, for additional energy-saving ideas.

These days, you can take control of the size of your electric bill — and your cooperative can help. The energy you save helps everyone. The dollars you save are your own.

Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart
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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423
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