With the summer months comes hot temperatures. But worse, higher electric bills.
In Gainesville, customers may feel those costs more than others.
The Florida Municipal Electric Association ranks Gainesville Regional Utilities second for the highest electric bills among all utilities in Florida, including Duke Energy and Florida Power and Light.
The latest report released for June 2022 shows GRU's average electric bill per 1,000 kWh was $170, trailing behind only Key West's average bill of $210. For those who used more energy — 1,200 kWH — GRU had an average electric bill of $205 per bill.
While natural gas prices have gone up around the nation, GRU officials say they also understand how an extended summer 35-day billing cycle for some has added to the strain.
Monday, the utility announced it was returning utility deposits early to help those with increased bills from high usage and fuel prices. Those who as of Aug. 2 maintained a satisfactory payment history over 12 months will receive a credit on their next bill. Normally, deposits are held for 24 months. The utility also has suspended all late fees and disconnections for the summer.
To assist customers and to try to keep bills down, officials also are providing a few tips.
Setting the thermostat
GRU officials say the ideal temperature for your thermostat is 78 degrees during the summer.
Odds are, even at 78, your air conditioning unit is already working overtime against 90-degree heat, but bumping up a few notches and turning on a fan is someone's best bet at staying affordably cool.
When leaving the house for a long period of time, turning your thermostat up also can help ease those bills. Turning off the air unit will only require more energy to circulate the air before cooling back down when you get back home.
When to use fans
Ceiling fans only move air around and cool your skin. Not the room.
When leaving home, turn your fans off. It doesn't make much of a difference when you walk into your home versus turning it on when you come back. Odds are the inside of your house is already cooler — and shadier — than Florida's blistering heat.
An alternative way to save on your electric bill comes in the form of a water heater. GRU recommends checking and setting the water heater at 120 degrees. Anything high is considered a "high temperature" and causes more water to cool it, said Kinn'zon Hutchinson, GRU's chief customer officer.
"It's like competing between cold and hot," he said.
There's a trade-off between keeping lights on and using natural light for your home. For the summer though, it's best to keep the blinds and curtains closed, especially when not home, so that little heat from the sun gets inside your house.
Unplugging unused appliances also is key. Many items, such as yard appliance chargers or gaming systems, that aren't regularly used can be unplugged to save energy costs.
GRU also offers free home audits to its customers, including renters, if looking for additional ways to save. A GRU worker will come out to the house for an inspection and list out several potential fixes that would help keep bills down in the future.
For more information on understanding your bill breakdown or to schedule an audit, visit gru.com.