Hating this heat? Wait until the electric bill arrives

This dry, oppressive heat will give your air conditioner and your wallet a workout.
Published August 14 2013
Updated August 15 2013

With the heat index hovering around 100 degrees, fatigue and sluggishness are common.

But the biggest pain probably will arrive next month in your electric bill.

Hot, dry air over Tampa Bay, along with a slowdown in thunderstorms, has made the heat particularly oppressive over the past few days, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.

That means demand for energy hits a peak. And that probably means higher electric bills.

Duke Energy recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees.

For every degree above 78, your air-conditioning costs will decrease up to 10 percent, said spokesman Sterling Ivey.

"This is the hottest time of the year in Florida," he said. "If customers are running their airconditioners more because of the heat, it's likely they'll use more electricity and have a higher energy bill."

Duke Energy, which supplies electricity to a 20,000-square-mile region of Florida, said the company monitors weather patterns to predict and plan for spikes in energy demand.

Utility companies typically recommend keeping your blinds closed, using ceiling fans and having regular maintenance checks on your air-conditioning unit.

In the meantime, experts say, it's important to take care of yourself, too.

If you have to exercise or work outside, do it during the cooler hours of the day, said Rebecca Lopez, an assistant professor of athletic training at the University of South Florida.

Take frequent breaks from the heat, and stay hydrated.

In extreme heat, your blood circulation has to work harder to maintain a normal body temperature, Lopez said. This leads to the sluggish feeling you get after being in the sun for a long time.

Additionally, Florida's humidity prevents sweat from evaporating quickly, a key in lowering body temperature.

"If you're someone who works outside all the time, you will be able to deal a little better," Lopez said. "It really has to do with what you're doing outside in the heat and how used to it you are."

Contact Lauren Carroll at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @LaurenFCarroll.