Recent cold temperatures are likely to significantly increase customers' utility usage to warm their homes, MLGW officials announced today. More traditional cold winter temperatures have followed a period in December and January that represented the warmest winter month on record for MLGW. The period of warm weather helped keep usage down, but MLGW is reminding customers that the current cold spell could cause February bills to show an increase.
"We want our customers to be prepared. The biggest driving factor in the natural gas portion of your utility bill is consumption and the biggest driving factor of consumption is the weather," said Alonzo Weaver, Vice President of Customer Operations.
MLGW leaders say they cannot determine an average increase since costs are directly tied to consumption. "Customers who use greater amounts of energy will see a larger increase," Weaver said. Most of a customer's natural gas cost goes directly back to MLGW wholesale gas suppliers to pay for the supply and delivery of the gas.
For customers needing assistance with paying their utility bill, MLGW offers a number of payment options and programs. MLGW's Customer Care Center can assist customers who call 544-MLGW (6549). "We want to work with our customers and will make every effort to make payment arrangements that will fit their needs. If you are having problems, call us and we will work with you," Weaver said.
MLGW also encourages customers to control their energy usage. The utility has created a Winter One-Stop at www.mlgw.com that contains useful conservation and additional information designed to help customers maximize their energy efficiency.
During cold weather, here are the five things you can do to save energy in your home:
- Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. Lower your thermostat even more at bedtime and if you will be away for four hours or longer. Each degree above 68 can add up to four percent to your energy costs.
- Close off rooms that are not in use and use space heaters safely for extra heat.
- Open blinds and drapes on sunny days. Be sure to close them at night.
- Protect your water pipes by wrapping exposed pipes with pipe insulation and conserve by setting the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees or medium.
Change your regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. They cost a little more, but last up to 10 times longer and burn about a third of the energy.
MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 420,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County with some of the lowest combined rates in the U.S.