The Oak Ridge Electric Department is warning its customers to expect higher utility bills for the next two months. According to Jack Suggs, Oak Ridge electric director, bills for power used in December are now in the mail, and bills for January will be coming out in a few weeks. He expects these bills will be difficult for many customers.
The National Weather Service calculates an index called “degree days of heating,” which is used as an indication of how cold the weather is over the course of a month. The higher the value of the number, the greater difference between the outside temperature and a properly heated home.
“Higher degree days of heating means that the heating system in a customer’s home has to work harder to keep the home warm,” Suggs said. December 2013 had nearly twice the degree days of heating as November, and January is looking to be significantly higher than that.
In addition to weather, there are several other factors that can contribute to higher energy bills.
“There is no magic here, I recommend customers stick to the basics: Sealing air leaks, insulation, and efficient appliances all contribute to more comfortable and efficient homes,” Suggs said. He also said that space heaters are one of the worst offenders when it comes to inefficient heating. Some customers have added several hundred dollars in energy cost to their winter bills by operating these units.
“There is nothing wrong with using a space heater to knock the chill out of the air for a few minutes,” Suggs said. “Unfortunately, some of our customers use these units constantly and as their primary source of heat. This can be very expensive.”
Many of the less fortunate in our community are going to have a hard time meeting their utility bills this winter. Suggs encourages customers to consider making a donation to Project Safe (Special Assistance Fund for Energy) when they pay their utility bill. Funds collected are given directly to Aid to Distressed Families of Anderson County and kept in the community to help those in need.
For more information on energy savings, visit: http://energyright.com.