COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – With the summer heat finally here, residents may begin to see a rise in their monthly utility bills. But, professionals are saying it’s not always just the heat and increased air conditioning (AC) use that’s causing the rise in your bill.

Robert Watkins, Georgia Power’s External Affairs Manager for West Georgia, recommends you set your thermostat to 78 degrees. He states it’s important to note that every degree below that will increase your AC bill by 5%.

Watkins adds that using ceiling fans to help cool down a high temperature room is a way you can cut that cost. He also mentions checking your insulation.

“Other things you can do go around and check around the windows and doors and look at how the windows and doors are caulked,” said Watkins. “And is air getting in there? You can get some cheap caulk, caulk is relatively inexpensive and put that on, clog up all the holes and make sure the infiltration has stopped.”

More tips and tricks on how to keep your bill down during the summer months can be found at

Even with tips and tricks, sometimes a bill increase is too high for families or an individual to cover the cost. This is when Katie Byers, Director of St. Anne’s Outreach, said it is imperative to not wait to look for financial assistance.

There are a few local organizations that help with utility bills. Byers said funds are limited for these programs so it’s important to seek help as soon as you need it. She also says it’s incredibly important to check with landlords and Georgia Power if your bill is too high to see if their is a problem with the AC unit.

“One of the things that I see most often is we’ll have families that show up with these huge bills you know 1,200 and it’ll be because the system the air conditioning system was broken,” said Byers. “And they didn’t realize it and it ran, ran, ran, and ran and it, it escalated their bill so that’s something that tenants really need to pay attention to.”

Byers said assistance with utilities is the number one call they get at their outreach center especially when the temperature rises.

She also encouraged residents to check on their neighbors throughout the summer. Heat related deaths are possible and it’s important to check in and look out for each other.

United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley’s 211 program can connect you to the various financial assistance programs in the area. You can also reach out to Georgia Power to learn about their very own program, the “Share” program.