GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - On days like this when the temperature flirts with 100, the electric meter outside your house spins around as quick as NASCAR racers. But there are phantom power sources that eat up the energy and your money.
For instance, unplug your cell phone charger when you're not using it. An old refrigerator in your garage can chew through $150 per year in electricity. A plugged-in Wii or PlayStation draw power even when they're turned off.
Consumers Energy set an all-time power usage record between 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, when they hit a peak of 9086 megawatts. It easily eclipsed the previous all-time record of 8930 megawatts on July 21, 2011.
Getting you to use less electricity is just fine with power companies like Consumers Energy, especially when they have to go to the electric grid and buy more power at inflated prices.
So why would a power company want you to use less?
"The cheapest kilowatt is the kilowatt not produced," Consumers Energy spokesperson Roger Morgenstern said. Since power companies sometimes have to buy power elsewhere, it's more cost-effective for them -- and for you -- if you use less.
In fact, "We have a program where we will haul away your old refrigerator and give you a $50 rebate," he said.
He said the phantom power sources - TVs, VCRs, laptops, the coffee pot, anything that has a light on when you turn it off - all add up to extra dollars on your bill and more power they have to supply.
Experts suggest setting your thermostat to 78 degrees and just leave it alone. Close your blinds and your room will cool quickly. Change the air filter in your air conditioner, which will make it up to 30% more efficient.
And in these hot times when money - and power - is tight, saving electricity is a smart thing to do.
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