Empire District Electric customers in Missouri will see a fee that's been itemized on their bill this month. Company workers say the fee has actually been around for about the last 10 years, it's just been included in the bill's total cost.
The fee is listed as an "Energy Efficiency Program Cost" and funds an Empire rebate program to help pay for energy efficient upgrades.
For a $121 bill a customer would pay $0.27 for this program.
Not everyone reaps the benefits of this fee because not everyone has a high efficiency air system, or is eligible for the program.
Rebates are available to contractors building energy efficient homes and qualified low-income families can have windows and doors better sealed with the work done free of charge.
The rebates will also help anyone pay for a new central air system.
"Not every air conditioner or heat pump, you do have to purchase a high efficiency heat pump so that you are helping us hold down the demand for electricity," says Amy Bass of Empire Electric.
Efficiency of air conditioners is rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Radio, or SEER. All air conditioners sold since 2006 must have a SEER rating of 13. But Empire's rebate program will help cover the cost of units with at least a 13 SEER.
Central air specialist Steven Jones because curious about the fee about five years ago.
Jones says between rebates from the government and Empire's rebate program, it "gets it to where you can get the higher efficiency equipment for about the same price."
With the more efficient equipment, customers will see a change during the months heat or air conditioning is used most.
"You should be able to look at an overall savings on your bill at around 25-30%," says Jones.
Those incremental savings by customers adds up for Empire.
"If our customers can help us hold down the demand, possibly we can put off building new plants," says Bass.
Empire workers say the Energy Efficiency Program Cost fee has remained the same for years. Any fee or rate change would have to be approved by a state's utility commission.