The cost of electricity has dropped over the past few years, with customers paying about 25 percent less than they did in 2008 according to a recent statement by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. However, prices are expected to climb again, with 90 percent of utility executives surveyed by consulting firm Black and Veatch saying that they believe new government regulations will cause utility bills to rise.
The Black and Veatch study was reported by CNN and surveyed about 500 executives, over half of whom said that they predict a significant rise in utility bills, interpreted by the consulting firm as about 10 percent or more.
Rising Temperatures, Rising Bills
With summer coming on, many Americans are feeling the heat when it comes to electric bills and are eager for any way to stay cool and keep bills low.
American households pay an average of $111 a month on electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Although that number may be lower than it was in 2008, with many households still struggling to recover from the recent recession, it can still be a big chunk of the household budget – especially when soaring temperatures cause consumers to crank air conditioners.
Credit Card Heat Relief
One way to save on those electric bills is to use a cash back credit card to pay them. Most credit cards allow members to set up automatic bill payment, so not only will bills always be paid on time, card holders will get cash back for charging bills to their accounts. Another way to pay utility bills with a credit card is to sign up with a service like ChargeSmart, an online platform which allows customers to set up automatic credit card payments to utility companies.
Which credit card is best to use? The Citi Dividend Card (offer expired) gives new card holders $150 cash back when they make just $500 in purchases during the first three months after opening an account, along with a zero-percent APR on purchases for a year. Card holders earn one percent back on all purchases, with five percent back each on categories that rotate every quarter. Through the end of June, Citi Dividend is giving five percent cash back at Home Depot.
Saving Energy, Saving Money
To save the most money on electricity this summer, consumers could apply for the card, buy an electricity usage monitor to help keep electricity usage in check – the P3 International Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor is available from Home Depot for $20.28 – and get five percent cash back.
While shopping at Home Depot, customers could also pick up any supplies they need to put these hot energy-saving tips into action:
- Put up sun-blocking blinds and keep them closed during the sunniest part of the day.
- Install ceiling and window fans and use those instead of turning on the air conditioning whenever possible – they use far less energy.
- Switch off the A/C if no one will be home for several hours.
- Put new filters in the air conditioning units, or clean the old filters.
- Set the thermostat a few degrees warmer. 75 degrees instead of 72 degrees isn`t too noticeable a difference, but each degree higher accounts for a five percent drop in energy use.
- Plant some trees in the yard to create shade that will keep the house cooler.
Many credit cards offer cash back, and rotating rewards categories change every few months, so there is always a way for savvy customers to save money, even when electricity rates are on the rise.