Itâ€™s that time again. Many of you are probably getting ready for the summer ahead â€“â€“ making arrangements for internships, hunting for jobs, finishing schoolwork before heading home or planning to stay here for summer classes, work and to enjoy all Fort Collins offers during the summer months.
For those of you who will continue to call Fort Collins home this summer, I encourage you to add something else to your to-do list: Learning how you can save energy in your home. The city recently approved an increase to residential electric rates, which will go into effect this summer. Whether you live in a house or apartment, if you are responsible for paying your monthly electric bill, you are likely to see it increase this summer.
While Fort Collins still has some of the lowest electric rates in the region and nation, we must respond to price changes in the electric industry, specifically a 6.4 percent increase in the purchase power rate from our wholesale electric provider, Platte River Power Authority (PRPA). To cover PRPAâ€™s rate increase and the costs of improvements to our electric system, City Council adopted an 8.3 percent electric rate increase for 2012. Council also adopted a new seasonal electric rate tier system with higher rates in the summer, when itâ€™s most expensive to purchase electricity from PRPA.
Simply put, as your electricity consumption increases, so will your costs; youâ€™ll be charged more for each unit of electricity (kilowatt hour). A rate calculator is available online to help you estimate your new charges: fcgov.com/utilities/residential/rates/electric
So, what can you do to keep your electric costs down? Fort Collins Utilities offers energy-saving tips, programs and services to help you save. Check out fcgov.com/conserves. Here are just some of the no-cost or low-cost adjustments you can make to save electricity and money:
Use fans instead of air conditioning.
Close shades or drapes during the day to help retain cool air.
Turn off lights, TVs and appliances when not in use.
Install compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs where you can.
Use the sleep mode on your computer.
If you have a dishwasher, clothes washer or clothes dryer in your house or apartment:
Wash full loads of dishes or clothes.
Air dry your dishes, even in the dishwasher.
Use a clothesline, if you have one.
Finally, give your air conditioner a break. As much as half of the energy a home or apartment uses is for A/C cooling in the summer. On cool days and nights, turn off your air conditioner and open your windows.
For many of you, these tips may be second nature. On behalf of the city, I commend Colorado State University and the student body for demonstrating a strong commitment to environmentally conscious initiatives. Your everyday actions to conserve energy and water, recycle and reduce waste and follow other sustainable practices help your campus, this community and the world beyond.
Have a great summer!
Darin Atteberry is the Fort Collins city manager.