Duquesne Light spokesperson Hollie Geitner says residential usage has increaed 20 percent.By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — High temperatures this summer are leading to high electric bills as people crank up the air conditioning to stay cool.

Friday is the 40th day at or above 85 degrees and with so many people working from home and few camps for kids, air conditioning systems are running all day and night.

Duquesne Light spokesperson Hollie Geitner says residential usage went up 20 percent while commercial usage went down.

“Between last summer and this summer, customers are seeing about a 48 percent increase in our bills,” Geitner says.

That’s a $45 increase in an average customer’s electric bill, just for July.

With many people laid off or forced to take pay cuts, it can be tough.

“There’s a lot of people right now who are experiencing financial hardship who never had this happen before. They’ve never had to ask for help. They’ve never been late on a bill, and so I think that dynamic is changing and there is help available,” Geitner said.

LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, offers grants up to $800, but it expires at the end of this month so apply now.

You can also spread out your bill, but it won’t lower the total cost.

To cut down on the energy usage itself, Geitner suggests keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees, using fans, only cooling rooms you use, cleaning around heating and cooling vents, insulating around outlets and light switches, and upgrading to an energy-efficient air conditioner with the help of rebates.

“You can also make your home cooler by adding solar screens or window tint to windows, adding shades and keeping them closed, and replacing the filter in your air conditioner,” Geitner said.

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Kristine Sorensen