Cold Temperatures May Mean Higher Bills

Posted by clarklc Wednesday, January 24, 2018 10:04:00 AM

We're Here to Help

The recent arctic temperatures we experienced are producing higher-than-normal bills for some of our customers. As temperatures drop, usage goes up, and that means higher bills.

It was cold! 
We saw record-breaking cold temperatures the first week of January. The average high did not get above freezing, the average temperature was 19 degrees, and the average low was a bone-chilling 9 degrees. Our average temperature was 42% colder, and our average low temperature was 50% lower than the same time period last year.

What Does This Mean for Bills?
It’s difficult to predict how this will impact bills, but we do know that colder weather means higher usage, and that means higher bills.

Usage varies due to different lifestyles, the age and capacity of heating units, the condition of duct systems, size and thermal efficiency of the home, air leaks, thermostat settings, etc. Even a two or three degree difference in the thermostat setting can have a big impact on the amount of energy used, and the cost of using it.

Severely cold weather reduces the efficiency of a heat pump dramatically, forcing the back-up heat supply to come on more often. This back-up heat could be three times more expensive than the heat pump alone.

It’s not just heating that is affected, but hot water as well. With low temperatures, the water coming into the hot water tank is colder. When the tank sits in the garage, carport, or other unheated area, it takes longer to heat the water, using more electricity. Plus, some people have a tendency to take longer, hotter showers in the winter than they do in the summer.

We Understand
Greenville Utilities understands that the cold blast could present some difficulties for some of our customers when they receive a significantly higher-than-usual bill, and we’re here to help. If your bill that includes the first part of January is larger than expected and you’re struggling to pay it, please reach out to us. We are willing to talk with you and offer customized assistance on a case-by-case basis. Just call 252-752-7166 and we can discuss your particular situation and find a solution.

Water Leaks
We know that some customers experienced burst pipes and water leaks during the recent arctic freeze. GUC has a process in place to help those customers reduce their bill for excess water and sewer charges during this time period.You'll need to complete the Leak Adjustment Request form and return it to us.

Ways to Save
Outdoor temperatures drive home energy usage more than any other single factor. While none of us can control the weather, we do encourage customers to take steps to reduce energy usage to lower bills as much as possible during the winter months.

  • On average, a heating system uses 60% of a home’s energy. Keep furnace filters clean, and make sure your heating system is operating efficiently.
  • If you have an electric heat pump, set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower and “forget it.” For other forms of heat, set the thermostat at 68 degrees (or lower), but if you’re gone for several hours or more, set it at 55 degrees, or even cut it off (unless pipes are in danger of freezing).
  • Make sure your home is well insulated.
  • Weather strip or caulk windows and doors to seal small cracks.
  • Insulate your water heater and set the temperature as reasonably low as possible.

We have additional tips and videos on lowering your energy bill. You can also call Energy Services at 252-551-1521 for more information about how you can reduce energy usage.

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