High utility bills this winter? SCE&G says you can lower them

Published: Jan. 27, 2018 at 4:17 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2018 at 8:22 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If you recently received a bill from SCE&G that is particularly high, you're not alone.

Utility customers with SCE&G across the state are raising concerns about higher bills during the cold winter months. With heaters remaining on more frequently, energy bills are becoming more expensive.

Officials with SCE&G are reminding customers to keep their thermostats on 68 degrees or lower. During the summer, they suggest setting the air conditioning unit at 78 degrees or higher if possible.

If you have a gas heater, it's really easy to save energy by simply bumping down the thermostat when you're away, and then putting it back to a comfortable setting when you're back.

According to SCE&G, most customers in the service area do have heating pumps.

With heating pumps, when temperatures drop below freezing and in the teens, it has to use a backup heat or auxiliary heat to keep the home warm.

When it's in auxiliary heat, customers may know it as heat strips- where it's using 2 to 3 times, sometimes even four times the electricity than it uses in the regular heat pump. That's when customers see their bill spike.

Also, customers with a heat pump in their home are encouraged to manage it by turning it off when you're not at home to reduce energy.

"So what we are seeing with some customers bills based on the temperatures for their area, we're seeing that the heating needs have gone up from 38% all the way up to 110%," says Ginger Greenway of SCE&G.

"Some customers have asked us if rates have changed and, actually, residential electric rates are a little bit lower than they were this time last year," said Ginny Jones of SCE&G. "What's happened though is, because of the extreme cold weather in fact earlier in January, customers used more energy than ever. That energy use is translating into higher bills."

Officials at SCE&G recommend using their energy-tracking tool on your online account to learn about how your home uses energy.

An example Ginger Greenway gave on saving money is by lowering the temperature by a degree.

"If you keep it say on 70, just by lowering it to 69, you can save up to 7% of just the heating costs during that time just by lowering it by that one degree. So the more you can go down, it changes about 7% per degree," Greenway said.

Here are some tips from SCE&G to help you save:

1. Set your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower in the winter and 78 degrees or higher in the summer,

2. Install a smart or programmable thermostat for added convenience.

3. Check air filters monthly.

4. Periodically check your ductwork for leaks or tears.

5. Have your central heating and cooling system serviced annually by a professional.

6. Upgrade your attic insulation to a minimum of R-39 (12-14 inches) .

7. Caulk, seal, and weather-strip all around openings to protect against drafts.

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