Summertime seems to be getting hotter every year. This season, prepare your home in advance so relying more and more on your air conditioning won’t show up as much on your electric bill.

Here are five ways to give you’re A/C a break this summer:

  1. Call an HVAC technician. A professional can examine your system and let you know what needs repairing or replacing, which can prevent a mid-summer breakdown.
  2. Change or clean air filters. When filters do their job properly, they trap dirt, pet hair and anything else that’s floating in the air from recirculating into your home when the air conditioner is blowing. But dirty filters can prevent air from flowing, too, which makes the A/C have to work extra hard to cool your house. The solution: Change or clean your filters once a month during the summer.
  3. Run ceiling fans. When the A/C is running at the same time as a ceiling fan, the room where the fan is located will feel cool enough that you can raise the thermostat by about 4 degrees. A fan doesn’t cool the air, but it creates a breeze that makes anyone in the room feel cooler.
  4. Install a dehumidifier. Another great partner for the A/C is an energy-efficient dehumidifier. Lowering the humidity in your home helps the air conditioner work more efficiently because it doesn’t have to waste energy removing moisture from the air and can concentrate on simply cooling it.
  5. Don’t create heat. On days when it’s warm enough to turn on the air conditioner, turn off your oven, clothes dryer, lamps and other appliances that create heat. Wait until after dark, when the day cools off a bit, before running heat-producing machines.

The U.S. Department of Energy and most electric utilities recommend that you set your thermostat at 78 degrees during the summer.

Before you leave for work, crank it up to 85 degrees and before you turn in for the night, nudge it up to 82, the DOE recommends.

If that sounds a bit toasty for summertime, consider inching your thermostat up 1 degree at a time rather than all at once if you usually keep yours set at 72 in the summer—as most Americans do.

And consider replacing a manual thermostat with a programmable model so the settings will change automatically.

We pack a suitcase when we’re headed out on vacation, of course. We pack a bag when we know ahead of time that we’ll be hospitalized for a surgical procedure. Soon-to-be empty-nesters watch anxiously as their college-age kid packs all that’s necessary to furnish a dorm room. And as that delivery date approaches, every expectant mother has a bag packed and ready for when Mother Nature says, “It’s time.”  

But there’s another kind of packed bag that can come in handy: The one you stock to be prepared in the event of a prolonged power outage. 

“We hope our members never need to rely on those kinds of supplies,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “But we’d prefer that they have it and not need it instead of the other way around.” 

Depending on the time of year and your family’s needs, here’s a list of some common items that will prove very useful if electricity is unavailable for an extended period of time: 

  • Flashlights/batteries 
  • Long-burning candles and lighter or matches 
  • Water (one gallon per person per day) 
  • Nonperishable food/pantry items and a manual can opener 
  • First-aid kit 
  • Wet wipes/hand sanitizer 
  • Weather radio 
  • Portable phone charger 
  • Headlamps, deck of cards, portable battery-operated fan 

Scott stresses the need to check your power outage bag periodically, even if the need to use it hasn’t arisen: “You’ll want to be sure that expiration dates haven’t passed and that batteries are still good. And there’s one last critical piece of advice I can’t stress enough: Make sure everyone in your family knows the location of this bag, box or tote. It can’t help you if you’ve forgotten where you put it!” 

NASHVILLE – At a board meeting held Wednesday in Young Harris, Ga., Jeff Lyash, CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, discussed decarbonization plans one year after releasing the agency’s Strategic Intent and Guiding Principles framework.

David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, made the following statement:

“Affordable energy and a reliable and resilient power grid are critical to the families and businesses served by consumer-owned electric co-ops. Co-ops support robust decarbonization efforts, but we also recognize that the economic success of rural and suburban Tennessee depends on affordable and reliable energy. Environmental and economic needs must be carefully balanced as we move toward a carbon-free future. We support TVA’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions while protecting Tennessee’s electric rate payers and economic growth.”

Tennessee’s electric co-ops are leaders in balancing environmental and economic concerns. Tennessee’s electric co-ops’ residential electric rates at are 17 percent below the national average. At the same time, more than 55 percent of the energy distributed by Tennessee’s electric co-ops comes from carbon free sources, and statewide electric co-ops have built more than 2.5 megawatts of solar generation.

A springtime tune-up can prevent your air conditioning system from going on the fritz later, when the weather is so hot that you won’t want to be without the a/c for even a few hours.  

It typically around $100 to have a professional inspection of your system, and it’s well worth the money. 

Some contractors offer an annual preventive maintenance agreement, which will cost a few hundred dollars a year and typically includes a fall and spring inspection of your HVAC system and discounts on repairs and equipment. A better deal most often is to pay as you go for individual inspections. 

Either way, your cooling system will get attention from a qualified, licensed service technician who is trained to spot problems that most homeowners overlook. The tech might even alert you if a small repair now will prevent your family from sweltering this summer during an a/c breakdown. 

Safety is more than a catchphrase at your local electric cooperative.

That’s why you’ll see co-ops hosting safety demonstrations at community events and in schools throughout the year to demonstrate the dangers of electricity. Co-ops discuss emergency scenarios such as what to do if you’re involved in a car accident involving a utility pole and downed power lines, and they caution students on the dangers of pad-mounted transformers and overloading circuits with too many electronic devices.

Electricity is an integral part of modern life. Given the prevalence of electrical devices, tools and appliances, here are a few practical electrical safety tips:

Frayed wires pose a serious safety hazard. Power cords can become damaged or frayed with age, heavy use or excessive current flow through the wiring. If cords become frayed or cut, replace them because they could cause a shock when handled.

Avoid overloading circuits. Circuits can only cope with a limited amount of electricity. Overload happens when you draw more electricity than a circuit can safely handle — by having too many devices running on one circuit.

Label circuit breakers to understand the circuits in your home. Contact a qualified electrician if your home is more than 40 years old and you need to install multiple large appliances that consume higher amounts of electricity.

Use extension cords properly. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord. If you “daisy chain” them together, it could lead to overheating, creating a potential fire hazard. And don’t exceed the wattage of the cord. Doing so also creates a risk of overloading the cord and creating a fire hazard. Extension cords should not be used as permanent solutions. If you need additional outlets, contact a licensed electrician to help.

I encourage you to talk with your kids about playing it safe and remaining smart around electricity. Help them be aware of overhead power lines near where they play outdoors.

Our top priority is providing an uninterrupted energy supply 24/7, 365 days per year. But equally important is keeping our community safe around electricity.

Contact your local electric co-op for additional electrical safety tips or if you would like us to provide a safety demonstration at your school or upcoming community event.

SEATTLE – NRECA and the Council of Rural Electric Communicators recognized the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association this week with the Spotlight on Excellence Silver Award for Best Total Communications Program. The award for TECA’s Brighter Tennessee campaign was presented at NRECA’s Connect Conference in Seattle.

“The Brighter Tennessee campaign was developed to help co-op consumers and community leaders better understand the impact electric co-ops have on the people and places we serve,” says Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy for TECA. “Co-ops are making significant investments in Tennessee’s future, and the Brighter Tennessee campaign tells that story in a compelling way.”

“We are honored by this recognition from NRECA and the Council for Rural Electric Communicators,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “We are very proud of our communications program, and it is exciting to be recognized at this level.”

The annual Spotlight on Excellence Awards program recognizes the best communication and marketing efforts by electric cooperatives and related organizations. Entrants competed with electric cooperatives of similar size in 18 categories. Electric cooperative communicators and marketing professionals submitted more nearly 600 entries in the Spotlight on Excellence program. Faculty members from the University of Missouri – Columbia and University of South Carolina, as well as noted professionals in the fields of marketing, web design and digital communications, and newspapers judged the event, which uses a finite scoring system to determine the winners.

In addition to TECA’s recognition for Best Total Communications Program, Appalachian Electric Cooperative and Middle Tennessee Electric also received Spotlight on Excellence Awards. AEC was recognized with a Gold Award for Best Internal Newsletter and a Gold Award for Best Photo. Middle Tennessee Electric received a Gold Award for Best Ad Campaign and a Gold Award for Best Individual Ad.