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Members learn how to save on electric bills

Article was added on Friday, February 16, 2018


Using less electricity and being aware of when you use that electricity benefits us all. That was the message about 50 Santee Electric Cooperative (SEC) members got during a recent pilot program in the cooperative's conference center.

"What is the most important thing I can do immediately to save electricity," Rodney Ward asked.

"Change your thermostat setting," Manager of Marketing, Jay Kirby replied. During Kirby's talk he explained that "comfort comes at a cost." With heating and cooling accounting for 40 to 60 percent of your electric bill, the best way to save money is to set the thermostat as close to the outside temperature as possible.

If eight different families were put in the exact same house, they would have eight different electric bills, Kirby said. The way you use electricity and how your home is insulated determines your bill.

"You need to get the big picture, know your kWh use" Kirby said. By getting a printout of electric usage, members can determine what is using the most electricity in their home.

"It's easier when you know where you're spending the most money," he added.

Two major problems Kirby finds in many homes is poor insulation and duct leakage. Duct work accounts for 95 percent of a central heating and air unit. He finds about 20 to 30 double wide mobile home with a cross over pipe that has fallen down every year. If duct work is leaking, the warm or cool air people are paying for is blowing underneath the house or in the attic.

During the hour and a half long meeting, members were also introduced to various programs the cooperative offers. Many of the attendees signed up for the Beat The Peak program.

"This program will help all of us," President and CEO, Rob Ardis said. ""It is crucial that we educate all members about the nature of power generation and delivery. Our price signal needs to be adjusted by making our charges reflect our costs. The more we (SEC employees and members) are informed, the more we can help the system lower costs as a team. I believe that 3-part rates (incorporating demand and time-of-use) is something we will see in my career."

Ardis went on to explain that during recent colder than normal weather, SEC's electric bill went up $2 million. He said a very bad misconception is that electricity costs the same amount no matter what time of day it is used. SEC doesn't make electricity, rather it purchases electricity on its member's behalf. Half of SEC's power bill is determined by the peak demand.

"If we could get all members to help delay using electricity during peak, we could really make a difference," Ardis said.

Beat The Peak program allows members to receive a phone call, text message or email letting them know when the cooperative expects an upcoming peak. During the winter, peaks occur during the morning and during the summer they happen in the afternoon. By doing small things like delaying using major appliances and adjusting thermostats three degrees, everyone will save in the long run, Kirby said.

Following the meeting, members had a chance to view energy efficiency models and see just how outside weather infiltrates homes. Members didn't leave empty handed. They were given weatherization kits and LED light bulbs for their own homes.

"There was a lot of good information," Tina Rouses of the Spring Gully community said following the meeting.

Janie McKnight said the fact that electricity costs different amounts at different times was very interesting. She and many other attendees said they would be happy to delay using electricity to save money.

If you would like to know how to save money on your electric bill, visit If you would like to sign up for the Beat The Peak program visit

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