By WRCB Staff

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- 

After receiving viewer phone calls about the high power bills they saw in December, we went to EPB and North GA Electric for answer as to why and for tips to help.

Below is the statement from EPB -

Since temperatures were at record lows throughout December 2010, customers had to use more energy to heat their homes and businesses. Increased usage during December – the fourth coldest December in our area's recorded history - caused bills to be, in many instances, much higher than normal. In fact we saw an approximate 11% increase in kilowatt hours used this December. This percentage increase is in comparison to last December (2009).

The colder it is outside, the more you use your heating system. And your heating system uses more energy than anything else in your home; 60% of average electric power costs are due to heating (and cooling) alone. So when the temperature is 65° Fahrenheit outside, your heating and air conditioning system doesn't have to work very hard to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home. But when the temperature outside drops below 65°, your system has to work much harder to heat your house. And for every degree it gets colder, it takes more energy to maintain a constant temperature in your house.

We offer several ways to help customers manage their electric bills, year round. Just give us a call at 423-648-1EPB (1372) and we're happy to help.

 

First step - Communication

If a customer is having a difficult time managing their bills, we encourage them to call us. The sooner we know a customer needs assistance, the sooner we can provide them with options, like:

· Bill extensions and payment arrangements

· Picking a different due date

· Budget Bill, which can help minimize monthly fluctuations due to weather

· Further assistance: We can refer customers needing further assistance to agencies like United Way 211 and Chattanooga Human Services. We work directly with United Way 211, through our Power Share program, to offer some utility bill assistance to those most in need.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance through our Power Share program, please contact United Way 211 – just dial 211.

We also have several ways to help customers reduce the amount of energy they use at home, such as:

 

Home Energy Audits IHEEPEnergy Savings Tips

An Online Energy Calculator can also be found at www.epb.net.

– whether it's hot or cold outside, we have numerous energy savings tips that can help our customers make their homes more energy efficient. Just go to our website at www.epb.net. – In Home Energy Evaluation Program (rebates for taking energy efficiency measures) – a free service we provide our customers, just call 648-1EPB (1372) to schedule.

 

Below is a statement from North GA Electric-

One of the most important factors we would like to stress is that NGEMC rates have not changed over the past year. The TVA Fuel Cost Adjustment will vary on a monthly basis, but NGEMC's rate per kilowatts hours has not changed. We generally bill on a 30 day cycle, and the most recent 30 days were drastically colder than prior billing periods. However, consumers' bills have been drastically impacted by their increased usage which is primarily driven by the weather.

· December 2010 is the coldest December on record according to NOAA (since 1895).

· November 2010 – average high temperature was 63.9 degrees F and the average low temperature was 40.4 degrees F.

· In December 2010, there were 26 days at freezing or well below freezing temperatures.

· For four days in December 2010, the high temperature did not go above freezing.

· Usage in the last 30 days may have been impacted by extended school holidays resulting from the inclement weather.

· Daily kilowatts usage in the month of January 2011 through today is up approximately 35% over December 2010.

· NGEMC rates have not changed – they are the same as last January and last month.

· The TVA Fuel Cost Adjustment changes monthly. For November 2010 to January 2011, the FCA amount has ranged between a credit of (.324) cents/kwh to an addition of .575 cents/kwh.

· If you heat your home with an electric heat pump, your unit's efficiency is reduced when the outside temperature falls below 35 degrees F. Emergency or "strip" heating coils may turn on to supplement your heat pump's regular heating capacity.

· Appliances that affect customers' bills the most are heat pumps, water heaters, and electric dryers.

NGEMC works with members every day on payment arrangements and payment plans. Every case is different and takes time to work through. We will also be happy to review and/or supply usage history for your location.

Please contact our offices if you need to discuss the payment of your bill – but please be patient as the volume of customer contact is very high.

NGEMC's website has energy saving tips and you can also access your account information on our website.

 

What to do if you need help: