Want to beat the heat without breaking your budget?

The Omaha Public Power District’s energy consultant, Eric BenSalah, and media relations specialist, Jodi Baker, offered these tips for efficient cooling of your home during this week’s predicted heat wave.

What should you do with the AC while you’re gone during the day?

Raising the temperature by 2 to 4 degrees can help maintain relative coolness without using as much energy. Once you are home, you can lower the temperature back down.

What about while you’re asleep? Does it make sense to turn the AC way down so the day starts off cool?

No need to lower the temperature any more than what is comfortable at night.

What are other things you can do to keep the house cool besides lowering the AC?

  • Close your blinds/curtains to any direct sunlight, or if the window is drafty.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are spinning counterclockwise.
  • Use ceiling fans or more directional fans, like box fans, to help cool your body temperature through the wind-chill effect; the air brushing across your skin can evaporate sweat and make it feel cooler.
  • Try to limit the use of heat-generating appliances (i.e. stove, oven, dishwasher, etc.), or use them at the coolest points of eachday/night.
  • If you have registers or vents in the floor or low to the ground, fans that can angle up can help better circulate the colder air up into the room.

What should I expect if I’ve signed up for OPPD’s Cool Smart or Smart Thermostat program?

These are programs where customers can get an annual credit for agreeing to let OPPD manage your heating and cooling system during peak times of the year.

Customers can sign up for one — the Smart Thermostat program is only for those with a Nest Learning Thermostat, or anyone in a single-family home with working central air can sign up for Cool Smart.

With Cool Smart, OPPD attaches a device to your home that runs the AC or heat pump in 15-minute intervals for up to 2.5 hours during peak energy use times. This happens up to 12 times per year and not on weekends or holidays. According to OPPD, customers report that they don’t notice the change if they’re home during this time, and the heat usually rises 1 to 3 degrees.

With the Smart Thermostat program, the Nest device will initiate the increase in temperature during those high peak times.

If residents feel it’s too hot, they can lower the temperature during that time.

What if I can’t afford my OPPD bill?

OPPD does not disconnect residential services for nonpayment during high temperatures — when it’s above 95 degrees — or with a high heat index above 105 degrees. The utility will not be disconnecting customers this week due to the predicted temperatures.

OPPD also recommends that people who are struggling to pay the bills consider applying for the following programs: OPPD’s Energy Assistance Program, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and OPPD’s Low-Usage Low-Income Program.