Utility customers can get a reprieve from high bills - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Utility customers can get a reprieve from high bills

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – It doesn't take a Meteorologist to tell you that it's hot outside. And if you think the heat is bad, you should see the heat index. Staying cool is a top priority for South Georgians these days, but you can't spend all day in the water - can you?

Too much heat can cause serious health problems.

Julie Miller from the Southwest Georgia District Public Health Office in Albany said, "Heat exhaustion and heat stroke."

Even though we're used to the heat in the Southeast, it can still cause death. During a 2007 heat wave, more than 40 people died. There are a few steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

"Drinking plenty of fluids, plenty of non-alcoholic, non high sugary is what we recommend. Also, limiting your exposure outside," said Miller.

But while drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding the hottest hours of the day are good, there's one certain way to avoid getting overheated this summer.

"The number one recommendation for heat related illness, for prevention, is air conditioning," said Miller.

With all of the heat that we've seen lately, air conditioners have been running non-stop and that can cause some really high electric bills, which can cause some really big problems with your finances.

But there's good news. In 2009, the Public Service Commission prohibited utilities from cutting off power on days where the high temperature is expected to be above 97 degrees, or the heat index above 110 degrees. At Albany Water, Gas and Light, they have a similar policy which goes back even further.

Lori Farkas from Water, Gas and Light said, "we've been doing it, at least four years, where we don't cut anybody off if it's going to be 100."

But like all good things in life, nothing lasts forever. After all it will cool off eventually, and that means that the bill will come due. Utility officials say that the best way to avoid high bills is to use less in the first place. And it all starts with the air conditioner.

"The federal guideline recommends that we put our air conditioner thermostats at 78," said Farkas.

Because the air conditioner may the biggest utility user in your home. Turning it up a little, can save you a lot of money in the long run.

"Every degree that you put your thermostat under 78, you raise your bill 3 to 5%," said Farkas.

So this Summer, even if you can't find a shady spot, you can still make sure that you beat the heat, without breaking the bank.

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