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6:17 AM Fri, Dec. 14th

Electric rate hike could hit seniors hard<BR><BR><BR>

A proposed electric rate hike could seriously impact seniors and other Kingman residents living on fixed or low incomes.

Citizens electric division recently announced a possible rate hike due to increased costs from its energy supplier, Arizona Public Service Co.

Citizens estimates that the price it paid for energy from APS tripled in the month of June, Tom Ferry, director of electric operations at Citizens, said.

Citizens will now request a rate increase with the Arizona Corporation Commission with a possible rate hike in early fall.

The request should come in one to two weeks after an audit of the rate hike by APS is completed, Ferry said.

One Kingman senior, Glenn Webb, 82, said he will cut back on energy use by turning up the air conditioner's thermostat during the day and turning it off at night.

"I hope the nights are cool enough now to keep the windows open," Webb said.

"I live on a fixed income.

You just can't go out like you used to."

He said he will start turning the lights off whenever he leaves a room.

To help save money, he will also take fewer car trips.

Joyce Covert, 77, and Robert Maddox, both of Kingman, also said they plan to cut back on both expenses and their home energy use.

Covert, who owns a three bedroom home, said if the rate is high enough, she will start buying candles or a propane lantern for lights.

Maddox said he will cut back on his food bill and use his car less to save money.

He recently moved into a mobile home with a swamp cooler and gas stove.

"I'm fairly frugal with energy use anyway," he said.

"I always turn out the lights when I don't use them."

One way to conserve energy is to set the thermostat at the highest temperature that's comfortable.

Consumers are urged to set thermostats at 78 degrees or higher.

For every degree increase in the thermostat during the summer months, a resident can cut 3 to 4 percent of their energy use, Ferry said.

For example, a resident of a small home can save more than $2 off a $54 bill by raising the thermostat one degree.

How much money one can save depends on various factors including the type of insulation in a house and if the air conditioner is properly maintained, he said.

Ferry advises against turning off the air conditioner before leaving the house.

Instead, turn the thermostat up 3 to 5 degrees, he said.

By caulking windows and doors, consumers can save up to 15 percent in cooling costs.

Air conditioners that sit in direct sunlight also run less efficiently.

Keep outside units free of leaves and debris that can cut airflow, Ferry said.

Other tips:

• If you plan to replace the air conditioner, shop for the higher-efficiency models.

Newer models are 30 to 40 percent more energy efficient than older models.

Close off unused rooms when the air conditioner is running.

• Replace reusable filters at least monthly.

A dirty air conditioner uses 20 to 27 percent more energy than a clean one.

Have the unit checked for maintenance seasonal.

• Plan to wash and dry clothes, bake and cook meals during cooler hours of the day or evening.

Set your refrigerator to 35 to 40 degrees and the freezer to 5 degrees.

Try not to open the refrigerator unnecessarily.

• Install ceiling or attic fans throughout the house.

Ceiling fans can lower the air temperature by 5 degrees or more.

• Close drapes and blinds that are on the sunny side of the house during the day.

Rooms that are sunnier are naturally warmer especially with the window closed.

Sun drenched floors and furniture can continue to radiate heat even during the evening hours.

But for Covert, conservation tips from Citizens aren't enough.

"Why don't they give seniors a break?" she asked.

"Some seniors are on a fixed income and this would be the pits.

They (Citizens) should learn to live with a little less so we can have a little more."