Cold weather pushes heating bills higher. Here's how to save money.
Duke Energy customers in Ohio and Kentucky would be wise to prepare for higher gas heating bills for the rest of January or February – and maybe in both months.
“Extreme temperatures drive energy usage since the majority of the energy we use is for heating or cooling our homes and businesses,” Lee Freedman of Duke’s corporate communications office in Downtown Cincinnati said.
“Our customers’ natural gas usage for the period of Dec. 15, 2017, through Jan. 15, 2018, was about 30.8 percent higher than a year ago, and about 31.7 percent higher than historical averages.
Freedman said the higher bills are likely as a result of the recent cold temperatures. If the bill is higher, it’s because of higher energy use rather than natural gas costs, which are down slightly from January 2017.
“Depending on their billing cycles and energy use, some customers may see higher bills in January or February, or both,” Freedman said.
Duke Energy’s website (https://www.duke-energy.com/home) details programs where people can get help with their bills, set up an even billing program and review conservation tips to save money.
Monthly bills are calculated on the previous four weeks’ energy usage.
For example, Freedman said his most recent Duke Energy bill was calculated Jan. 8 based on energy used between Dec. 5, 2017, and Jan. 5, 2018. His February bill will be for energy used between Jan. 5 and Feb. 5.
That means Duke won’t have overall January 2018 usage numbers and bill amounts until February.
But he said that in December, the average residential customer used about 4 percent more gas than the average residential customer used in December 2016.
“At current rates, that computes to a bill increase of about 2.3 percent – or $2.23,” Freedman said. “Based on spot checking a couple of January 2018 bills versus the January 2017 bills for the same accounts, January 2018 usage was 4 to 15 percent higher in 2018 versus a year ago.”
The change translates to $4.50 (2.3 percent) to $13.92 (11 percent) based on the current rates and the condition of the house and gas usage, Freedman said.
Duke’s statistics also combine numbers from all of its southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky customers.
Freedman provided these energy-saving tips:
- Reduce your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting when home and bump it down a degree or two when you leave.
- Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction because that pushes warm air back down into the room.
- Change your air filters regularly to keep your heating system working efficiency and with less energy.
- Have a qualified contractor check your HVAC system regularly to maintain peak performance.
- Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow in the sun and lose them at night to help keep the warmth inside your home.
- Replace standard bulbs with more efficient fluorescent light or light-emitting diodes bulbs.
Duke Energy customers can call 1-800-544-6900 with questions about their bills.