Take Action Now to Avoid the High Bill Chill
As we head into what can be the coldest and dreariest parts of winter, we all need to be aware that the season's chilly temperatures and shortened days can lead to increased electricity usage at home. It's not uncommon during this time of year for members to be surprised by much higher electricity bills - sometimes double what they normally expect. This can turn into an economic challenge, especially when the member does not believe they've changed their usage habits.
In the winter, heating costs generally account for the largest percentage of east Texas residential electricity bills, with elevated kWh usage mirroring outside temperature extremes. While the thermostat may be adjusted some, it's still set for a level that keeps occupants comfortable. In cold weather months, that can be a 30 to 40 degree difference from the outside temperature. And the greater the temperature difference between the inside and the outside, the harder and longer a heating unit must work to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. And that's what drives up kWh usage.
Then, when the big electricity bill arrives a month down the road, it's hard for a member to remember how cold it was, and the number of days it stayed cold. Too, most people aren't even aware of the very coldest temperatures. That's because the temperatures dip after midnight when most are fast asleep in their warm beds.  
Here's the good news. There ARE things you can do now to avoid high bill surprises. You can track your account usage along the way. This can lead you to reduce consumption by changing some habits. Also, you can employ some energy efficiency measures. And, you can also change the way you pay your bills.
A way to track your kWh usage is to view the Usage History tab on our Account Service Portal at WCEC.org. If you don't have an account you can create one on the portal or give us a call to help you set one up. Then go to wcec.org and select the Account Service tab, and sign in. Once in the portal, select the My Usage tab and choose Usage History. Your recent daily usage will be displayed along with several options. Below is an example of what you'll see. It includes your usage, overlaid with the temperatures, to give you an accurate picture of how the weather affects your energy consumption and increases kWh usage.

We also can offer tips to help conserve energy and reduce kWh usage.  One is to maintain a 68 degree temperature when you are at home and active; but when sleeping or away, consider lowering the thermostat a few degrees.  Lowering the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can trim heating bills from 5 to 15 percent.
If your electricity bills track up and down with peak heating and cooling months, an investment in insulation may offer long term payback. Another way to keep HVAC generated air inside is to invest in a little caulking and sealing air leaks around windows and doors. A well maintained HVAC system also saves money in the long run, as it runs much more efficiently, so annual inspections and tune-ups are always recommended.   The investment in efficiency measures now can help you start saving on your energy bill immediately, and will pay for themselves many times over.

Levelized Billing - Levelized Billing offers members a way 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 call our Member Services Department at (903) 763-2203 or (800) 762-2203, or e-mail us at info@wcec.org
At WCEC, we want to give you the information you need to be able to use electricity in the way that is most comfortable for you. We never want our members to be surprised by high bills. By looking up your almost real-time usage, by conserving where it makes sense for your family, and by changing the way you pay your bill, you'll never be surprised again.
WCEC Awards $6,000 in Scholarships
to Non-Traditional Adult Learners

WCEC is pleased to announce the 2018 Power Upward Scholarship contest winners. This program is for non-traditional adult learners pursuing post-secondary education. Each of the three winners described their field of study and future goals with an essay. The winners, selected by an independent judge, are: Mary Elizabeth Hunt, Winnsboro; Melissa Coats, Quitman; and Brandi Putman, Winnsboro.
Mary Elizabeth Hunt, secretary at Winnsboro Church of Christ, is the wife of Brian Hunt. The Hunts reside near Winnsboro and are the parents of two daughters. Hunt holds a Bachelor of Science in Education. She stays involved with church activities and participates in an outreach program called Feed My Starving Children.   Hunt is currently enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she is switching careers from teaching to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Melissa Coats is currently an 8th grade mathematics teacher at Quitman ISD but has taught in the region for 22 years. She and husband Ty live near Quitman and are the parents of a son and a daughter. Coats is a member at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, and she and her husband administer a scholarship fund they founded in memory of their son Jacob. She is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership from Lamar University, Beaumont. She hopes, upon graduating, to continue serving in education through an administrative position.  

Brandi Putman, having spent 27 years as a teacher, is currently the District Student Services Coordinator at Winnsboro ISD, and is the mother of one son. She and her husband Brett live near Winnsboro. She is a member at Tinney Chapel United Methodist Church, and she helps raise Texas registered Longhorns on the family farm. She is pursuing her Master's Degree at UT Tyler. She plans to continue using her education to serve students in need of special services.

Of the winners, WCEC CEO/General Manager Debbie Robinson said, "Each of these high achieving ladies should be admired for pursuing their passions through education.  Helping driven adults reach their full potential is the purpose of this WCEC adult scholarship program for members. I have no doubt our communities will be well-served by these students when they put their knowledge to use."
 Safety Tips
Hair dryers, heat guns and heat lamps are designed for specific purposes. Using them in other ways (thawing pipes, drying fabrics, etc.) can be very dangerous. Read and follow the instructions that came with the product carefully. Never use ovens or cooktops as heat sources. They can become damaged by improper use and become fire hazards.
For more safety tips visit our Safety & Consmer Tips
Energy Efficiency Tips 
They're out of sight, but don't forget about your air ducts. Taking care of them can save money and energy. Check ducts for air leaks. Take care of minor sealing jobs with heat-approved tape, especially in attics and in vented crawl spaces. Call the pros for major ductwork repairs.

For more energy efficiency tips visit our Energy Savings Center .