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'Just hold on,' experts warn summer electric bills expected to soar

'Just hold on,' experts warn summer electric bills expected to soar
'Just hold on,' experts warn summer electric bills expected to soar 02:05

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - You might want to sit down when you open your electric bill this summer. Rates are high - and expected to get higher. 

Summer months in Texas traditionally equal higher electric bills, but experts said this year will bring extra sticker shock if you aren't locked into a contract that goes through the summer.

"For some people, it's probably up 50% to 70%," said Bruce Bullock, Director of the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU. "If you are paying $100, you're probably going to be paying $150, $170." 

Bullock said Texas' deregulated electricity market has typically meant low commodity prices.  

"Now we are in an environment - and have been really for the almost the past year - where commodity prices are rising," he said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows electricity costs in DFW as having increased by 28.2 percent over the last year, compared to a national average of 11 percent. So how can you keep your bill from sky-rocketing? Electrician PJ Waites said start with your lights.

"I'd say start going to LED lighting," he said. "I've had some customers say it almost cut their bill in half."

He also said to turn your thermostat up, especially at night and when you're not home. Even a few degrees, to 74 or 75, will help. 

"I will say, if we can cut down on our usage all the way around, you will see that most definitely on your bill," Waites said.

The state also offers a utility assistance program for low-income households. And Bullock said some electric companies will offer balanced billing plans. Otherwise, he said, we will likely see relief - come fall. 

"At this point, just hold on as best as you can this summer, because I think it is going to be a tough one from a financial standpoint." 

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