BENTON, Ark. — People in Benton are being asked to conserve how much electricity and water they use. Benton Utilities is requesting immediate assistance due to “recent hot weather, less than normal rainfall, and forecasted triple-digit temperatures throughout the week.”

We went to Benton to ask customers if they were willing to sacrifice a little comfort for their town. Some say they don’t plan on adjusting how much water or electricity they use at all, but others didn’t even have to be asked.

The hum of air conditioners is so constant on an Arkansas summer day it’s easy to take it for granted, but not for Theresa Norman.

“I was probably 11 or 12 when we got our first air conditioner, and I thought I was the richest kid on this block,” Norman remembered.

Now owning the family home of her childhood, Norman is not feeling rich anymore.  She says her electric bill twice what it was six months ago.

“It’s difficult. It’s getting more difficult, especially at my age,” Norman admitted.

While her concern is money, Benton Utilities’s concern is power use. Wednesday, the company requested each customer take “immediate” measures to “help extend the use of our resources.”

Benton Utilities declined an interview but said their services will likely break their all-time summer peak of 78 megawatts this week. Other providers in Benton, First Electric and Entergy Arkansas, broke their summer records last week and the last week of June.

Brandi Hinkle, Entergy Arkansas communications specialist, stated, “The entire country is in the grip of a heat wave.”

She added Entergy is not asking its customers to conserve yet because Entergy is a multistate company, unlike Benton Utilities.

“If they have a huge demand, what we call a heavy load, then it can definitely overload their power lines. So, that’s probably why they are asking their utility customers to be more conservative,” Hinkle explained.

Benton Utilities is also asking people to crank down the faucet on water usage, even suggesting around five-minute showers.

Norman isn’t at that point of conserving water yet, but she is cooking outside, turning off one AC window unit during the day, and unplugging electronics, not only for the city but for her wallet.

“The bill is still pretty high. It’s not undoable, but it’s high,” Norma concluded. “We can’t wait until Fall gets here so we can cool off.”

According to Hinkle, air conditioning or a heater is typically responsible for half an electric bill, so adjusting it just one degree could save three to five percent off your total bill.

Benton Utilities requested customers follow these practices:

Energy

  • Raise your thermostats two or more degrees above your normal comfort zone.
  • Ceiling fans and lights should only be in use if you are occupying the room.
  • Unplug unused electronics. Standby power and display lighting add up.
  • Block afternoon sun with window coverings.
  • Reduce heat in your kitchen by grilling outdoors.
  • Hang-dry laundry if possible.
  • Skip the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher.
  • Increase refrigerator thermostat temperature, but do not exceed 40°F.
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • Replace HVAC air filters.

Water

  • Water lawns every other day. (Change sprinkler systems to manual mode if necessary.)
  • Even-numbered addresses; Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Odd-numbered addresses; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
  • Do not water lawns on Sundays or on days receiving rainfall.
  • Do not water lawns between 9 AM and 6 PM.
  • Run washing machine and dishwasher after 8 PM.
  • Take shorter showers (approx. 5 minutes).
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth or shaving.

If you have questions for Benton Utilities, they can be reached at 501-776-5930 or on their website.