Heat wave sends energy bills skyrocketing - tips to help you save

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WICHITA, Kan. Friday brought the hottest day of the year in Wichita, and there's more heat on the way. The 100+ temperatures have people cranking up their AC's, and energy bills are soaring.

Jack and Betty Call's latest energy bill is $185 , $50 more than last month.

Energy auditor John Nicholas, says there are plenty of things you can do to save save money.

Turning up the thermostat is an obvious change - but increasing the temperature by just four degrees - 76 instead of 72 - can save you hundreds.

"Over the course of a summer, yeah a couple of hundred dollars, just a few degrees on the thermostat," Nicholas said.

Something you might not think of - the hot water heater. Nicholas says the lowest setting on many newer heaters is 120 degrees, but some are set to 150.

It means pipes and the tank give off more heat, and gives your air conditioner more work. You won't notice the change in the water, but you'll see the savings on your bill.

"This kind of weather, the biggest savings is lowering the internal gains and not putting as much heat into your house that the air conditioner has to remove," Nicholas said.

That also means unplugging all of your electronics when you're not using them. They give off heat and use more energy.

Nicholas says the place where people lose the most money, is from the attic. He recommends homeowners to check for insulation and air leaks.

Using a thermal reader, he found an air leak in the attic space above the bathroom. The ceiling temperature there was 99 degrees.

"We lose more through the attic. When you do insulate the attic, make sure your contractor air seals the attic. If you don’t have an air seal, it doesn’t help," he said.

For insulation, he recommends having 16 inches in the attic and says it's a project that can pay for itself.

"Saving a lot usually has a bigger cost upfront, but it has a bigger payback," he said.

The US Department of Energy says you should only turn down the AC when you're leaving the house for eight hours or more. Changing the temperature frequently can actually cost you more - because it takes more energy, for your air conditioner to start up.