December 4, 2022

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Get ready for sky-high electric bills this winter

4 min read

This U.S. government agency’s Winter Fuels Outlook isn’t making spirits too bright ahead of this holiday season. These tips will help you avoid breaking the bank.

WASHINGTON — As if the holiday season weren’t stressful enough, you may need to budget for bigger bills along with your gifts, travel and holiday parties this winter.

That prediction comes from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest Winter Fuels Outlook, which says that many households across the country can expect to spend more than last year’s chilly season, which is defined in the forecast from October to March.

“Higher forecast energy expenditures are the result of higher fuel prices, combined with higher heating demand because of a forecast of slightly colder weather than last winter,” the agency details.

Local energy companies are also warning the public to brace for higher costs this season.

Pepco has said that typical customers can expect their bills could be $5 to $10 higher per month than they were earlier this year. 

“As temperatures fall, electric usage typically starts to climb, and with many companies continuing with a remote or hybrid work structure, Pepco customers are expected to use more energy to power their homes through the winter,” a spokesperson from Pepco told WUSA9, adding the company recognizes its responsibility to keep bills as low as possible while providing safe and reliable energy.

“This increased energy usage by customers, combined with recent increases in electricity and natural gas prices on the wholesale market, will result in higher bills for customers, including bills that are higher than similar periods during years past.”

Meanwhile, Dominion Energy says that, although the cost of natural gas, coal and oil used to generate electricity increased dramatically due to the pandemic, inflation and the War in Ukraine, their customers have been paying higher rates since July of this year when Dominion increased its fuel rate. 

So, customer rates should be flat as the season unfolds.

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However, the company acknowledged that customer usage is typically up in the winter in order to heat homes, which reliably brings higher numbers on bills.

Both companies provided a list of suggestions for anyone looking to cut down on what they’re spending this season.

One of the first steps is to ensure your thermostat is at 68 degrees or as low as comfortable during the day. Wearing extra layers around the house will help if lowering the thermostat seems like the best option for you. If you’ll be out of the house for a while or heading to bed, plan to set it even lower. 

If changing the thermostat temperature during the day proves hard to make a habit of, consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat. That way, you can set it to automatically change at certain times of the day.

“A few degrees could mean 10% savings or more on a monthly bill,” a Pepco spokesperson shared.

Plan to make sure the light bulbs in your home are energy-efficient. Those bulbs have the potential to use up to 75% less energy than standard bulbs. Dimmer switches can also help save on energy.  Plus, make it a habit to turn off lights and unplug unused electric devices when you leave a room. 

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It’s also a good idea to let the sunshine in your home during the day which can naturally bring the heat in, according to Dominion. However, be sure to close those curtains or blinds during the night to block out the cold evening air.

In addition, consider weatherizing your home by applying weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows to help keep heat from your system inside your home. Be sure to replace air filters regularly, as dirty filters can increase energy usage, damage the heating system and compromise air quality.

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Other tips from the experts include setting a timer on your TV if it’s something you often fall asleep to, using a toaster oven instead of a conventional oven where possible and using lids when boiling water. 

In the laundry room, keep the dryer’s lint filter clean for greater efficiency and be sure to only wash and dry full loads. Use the warm or cold setting when washing.

Dominion also suggests setting the water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees unless the manufacturer’s guidelines require a higher setting.

Plus, as you decorate for the holiday season, try out LED lights this year. They’re more energy efficient and often more durable, according to Dominion.

For even more tips, click here to see Pepco’s suggestions and click here for Dominion’s.

RELATED: USPS launches Operation Santa to spread holiday cheer

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2022-11-15 23:57:54

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