SWEPCO: colder winters means higher electric bills

SWEPCO: colder winters means higher electric bills

ARKLATEX (KSLA) - Have you gotten a high SWEPCO bill during these winter months? Here's why.

Officials from the electric company released an explanation for the high winter bills saying this year was much colder than the previous years.

Meaning, the heating system must work a little bit harder to create more energy to keep homes warm.

More specifically, the following factors are creating high bills, especially for homes with electric heating systems:

  • style="margin-bottom:11.25pt;line-height:normal;background:white;">Lower than average temperature – Average temperatures across SWEPCO’s three-state service territory have been three to five degrees below normal, according to preliminary climate data from the National Weather Service. Some nights were bone-chilling cold. Many cities and towns served by SWEPCO saw temperatures in the single digits – 20 degrees less than the average temperature for this time of year.
  • style="margin-bottom:11.25pt;line-height:normal;background:white;">High energy use – During this unusually cold period, homes required two to three times as much energy for heating than during the same period last year. For people who simply kept things the same and even those who lowered thermostats, heating systems ran longer – and therefore used more energy – to maintain warmth inside homes.
  • style="margin-bottom:11.25pt;line-height:normal;background:white;">Heat pump efficiency suffers in extreme cold – Heat pumps are very efficient in our region’s normal winter temperatures. But as outdoor temperatures fall below 30 degrees, supplemental electric heat strips turn on to maintain indoor warmth. These are still more efficient than heating a home with only electric resistance heat, but cause electric bills to go up.
  • style="margin-bottom:11.25pt;line-height:normal;background:white;">Portable space heater use drives up bills – In extreme cold, many people supplement their normal heating system with portable electric space heaters. Electricity to run just one 1,500-watt space heater can cost more than $3 a day, or $20 a week and $108 a month.

Other factors that may increase a bill include how well a home is insulated, lifestyle changes such as children home from school or out-of-town guests, and the number of billing days. More days per billing cycle will cause your bill to be higher. You can see the number of days in your billing cycle on the front page of your bill.

Why has the fuel charge increased so much?
This charge covers the cost of fuel to generate the electricity used in your home. The fuel charge increases proportionally to the number of kilowatt hours you use. Fuel costs are passed directly to customers with no profit to the company.

What if a customer's bill is high and they can't pay it?
Customers may call us at 1-888-216-3523 to find out what solutions we can offer.:

  • style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:11.25pt;background:white;">Setting up a payment plan. In cases where bill payments have fallen behind, it may make sense to consider setting up a payment arrangement. Phone representatives can describe specifics based on each situation.
  • style="margin-bottom:11.25pt;background:white;">Enrolling in AMP (Average Monthly Payment). AMP evens out payments throughout the year to account for seasonal spikes in usage. Bills adjust on a 12-month rolling average and change only slightly each month, making bills more predictable. More information is also available at SWEPCO.com/AMP.
  • style="margin-bottom:11.25pt;background:white;">Being referred to an agency offers financial assistance for electric bills. SWEPCO can provide eligibility guidelines, contact information and program specifics for local and state assistance organizations, and work with those organizations to verify information and accept agency assistance pledges.

What else can customers do to reduce their electric use?
There are a lot of great ideas on ways to save money on your next bill. Visit SWEPCO.com/Save to learn about no-cost and low-costs ways to save energy as well as SWEPCO's energy efficiency programs and rebates. Energy calculators and an energy audit will show customers how they're using electricity.

Copyright 2018 KSLA. All rights reserved.