Don’t invite Big Bill into your home in the next couple of months. Every winter, some WCEC members receive big fat shocking electricity bills that are double what they expected. Why does this happen? Here’s a hint. It’s not because we raised rates. We haven’t.
In winter, there’s a greater difference between the outside temperature and what you set your inside temperature to for comfort. Your HVAC unit must work hard to keep up. Heating costs, a big driver of bills, mirror outside temperature extremes. When the mercury on the thermometer falls, bills go up!
It’s not been that cold you say? Well. Not in the waking hours, for the most part. Remember, the coldest temperatures usually happen in the wee hours of the morning. So, if you have your dial set to maintain 72 degrees and it’s 30 outside, that’s a 42 degree difference! Even if you have a well-insulated home, it will lose heat constantly because the indoor air temperatures wants to equalize with the outside air temps. It’s a constant battle of the elements.
Sadly, when the shocking electricity bill arrives a month down the road, it’s hard to remember that it was THAT cold for THAT many days. Mostly, that’s because the lowest temperatures happened when most of us were sleeping. And remember, you are being billed for what you used weeks ago.
The good news is this. There are things you can do now to avoid high bill surprises. You can change the way you pay your bills. You can also reduce future consumption by changing some habits, and by employing some energy efficiency measures.
ADJUST HOW YOU PAY YOUR BILLS NOW
Levelized Billing – This is a way for members to even out payments to avoid billing peaks and budget better. When you sign up for Levelized Billing, you’ll be billed the average amount over your previous twelve month history. Payments are made automatically from your bank account and they will be close to the same amount each month, so it’s easier to budget. Anyone who has been a co-op member for at least a year and has a zero current balance is eligible for the plan. To learn more about Levelized Billing and to make bill-paying easier and more convenient, call our Member Services Department at (903) 763-2203 or (800) 762-2203, or e-mail us at email@example.com
SmartPower – WCEC has a “pay-as-you go” program called Smart Power. If members elect this pre-paid method, large bills can be transferred and paid out over time.
EMPLOY SOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEASURES
Insulate & Maintenance – An investment in insulation and performing a little caulking and sealing air leaks around windows and doors can save your conditioned air from flying out the window. A well maintained HVAC system also saves money, as it runs much more efficiently, so annual inspections and tune-ups are always recommended.
Conserve – Maintain a 68 degree temperature when you are at home and active; but when sleeping or away, consider lowering the thermostat a few degrees. Typically, the coldest hours are after midnight so lowering the temperature even just a few degrees, while you are tucked under the covers can cut usage and reduce your bill.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU DO RECEIVE A HIGHER THAN NORMAL BILL
If you ever have questions about your bill or will have difficulty paying it, reach out to our member services department by calling 903-763-2203. We can help you look at options like SmartPower or levelized billing to see if one of those would be right for you. Too, depending on the specific history and circumstances, pay out plans can possibly be made.
We can also schedule a home energy audit to help you better understand your usage. Sometimes an energy professional can spot a cause for high kWh that homeowners were not even aware of.
AND REMEMBER – WE WORK FOR YOU
At WCEC we only purchase the amount of electricity we sell, and sell the amount we purchase. Most importantly, there is no incentive to raise rates, since the cooperative is a not-for-profit and any profits are returned to the members. What we charge members is based on the cost of service. Therefore, we truly want to help our members control their usage and their bills. As a cooperative, we’re in this with our members.