Frigid temperatures lead to high utility bills

PHILADELPHIA - January 28, 2014

You can bundle up outside, but if you're trying to keep your home warm inside, you're likely going to be using more gas or electricity and that means higher utility bills.

The Energy Information Administration is now estimating home heating bills could go up by as much as 23.5 percent.

"Overall on our system, based on the frigid temperatures that we are seeing, the average system usage that we're seeing is about 5-15 percent but for customers their bills will be individual to them," said Cathy Engel Menendez, PECO.

How much more you'll be paying depends on how energy-efficient you've made your home.

Leon Armstrong-Hulsey says her apartment is well-insulated.

"My landlord has really concealed so our bill doesn't go up too much but I'm sure a lot of people's do," said Leon Armstrong-Hulsey.

Benita Williams is hoping her programmable thermostat helps.

"We have a digital thermostat so we try to program it to go down a little when we go out and at night but I don't think it's making a big difference because it's so cold outside," said Williams.

You can also cut costs by opening drapes to let sunshine in, closing off unused rooms and making sure furniture isn't blocking any vents.

It is also helpful to block air leaks around doors and windows with weather-stripping, caulk or even a rolled-up towel.

If you're worried you won't be able to pay your energy bill, call your utility company as soon as possible.

"We can talk to customers about payment plans. Another great plan is budget billing, if a customer has not signed up it's not too late to do so," said Menendez.

There are also a number of things you should not do.

Don't use your oven for heat. If you do use a space heater, never leave it on when you're not in the room and make sure it's in a clear space, so nothing around it is ignited.

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