Hot July weather and increasing wholesale power costs will result in higher August electric bills for Midwest Energy customers. But the customer owned utility offers several options to take away the sting. “Our budget plan is an excellent tool that can be implemented immediately,” said Bob Helm, Midwest Energy’s Manager of Corporate Communications. “Over 8,000 customers have chosen to pay the same average amount every month, making it easier to manage high heating and cooling bills.” The average temperature in Hays was over 4.5 degrees warmer in July than one year ago. That means air conditioners run longer and work harder to remove heat from conditioned space. Midwest Energy’s How$mart® program offers a way to minimize the impact of extreme weather by providing funds for the installation of high efficiency equipment. Over 420 customers have made efficiency improvements through the program. It is designed so energy savings exceed program charges. “Our customers agree that tighter and better insulated homes with more efficient equipment are a smart idea,” said Helm. Customers utilizing the How$mart® program report their homes are more efficient and comfortable than before. The higher July temperatures coincided with the start of new wholesale power contracts. Midwest Energy recently replaced expiring contracts negotiated years ago. The new contracts reflect more recent power plant and environmental costs. Helm offered one more tip to assist customers. “We have over 14,500 customers who pay bills with automatic bank draft,” said Helm. The funds are not withdrawn from the account until the due date. Participants save the cost of postage and avoid late payment charges.