Summer in the south means family gatherings, evening cookouts and scorching high temperatures.

To beat the heat, Entergy Arkansas offers the following steps for lower energy usage and utility bills in the summer:

• Set your thermostat to 78 or the highest comfortable temperature. Each degree cooler than 78 will increase your bill as much as three percent.

• Keep the cool air in your home circulating with ceiling, oscillating or box fans. The average ceiling fan makes a room feel seven degrees cooler.

• Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to remove excess heat and humidity caused by cooking, laundering and bathing. (High humidity makes our bodies hold more heat.)

• Avoid using the stove, if possible, and consider grilling outside instead.

• Make plans to use dishwashers, washing machines and dryers — which add heat and moisture to your home — during the coolest part of the day.

• Don’t block air vents with curtains, shades or furniture.

• Turn off unnecessary lights during hot weather and consider switching to cooler, energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs where light is needed.

In addition to the energy-saving tips, Save Me Money, Do-it-Yourself videos are also available online at The videos demonstrate installing a programmable thermostat, caulking windows and doors, changing air filters and installing insulation, among other suggestions.

Entergy customers can also sign up for level billing to control energy costs no matter the season. Once enrolled, customers will receive an estimated monthly cost based on their past 12 months of energy usage. The bills could vary slightly from that estimated amount based on actual usage, but customers won’t see the high spikes summer and winter often bring.

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties and is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy utilities deliver electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 15,000 employees.

(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by email at Follow us on Twitter @LCDonline, @meganpreynolds.)