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Home Local Maryland Government Announcement Originally published March 01, 2013

BGE Releases Cold Weather Data for 2012-2013 Winter Heating Season



BGE Releases Cold Weather Data for 2012-2013 Winter Heating Season

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Releases Cold Weather Data for 2012-2013 Winter Heating Season

Although natural gas prices remain at historic lows, energy usage increases with recent colder weather; customers may see higher energy bills as a result

Customers may be able to offset increased usage and save through BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program® and shopping for a third-party energy supplier 

 

BALTIMORE, March 1, 2013 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) <http://www.bge.com/Pages/default.aspx> , today announced that primarily as a result of colder weather during January and February of this year, as compared to last year’s warmer-than-normal winter, some customers may have increased their energy use, resulting in higher energy bills.

For the period of November 2012 through February 2013, central Maryland experienced 633 hours where temperatures were at or below freezing. This is nearly 30 percent higher than the same period last winter, which saw only 498 such hours. According to the WSI Weather Service, this winter, although relatively mild, has been 24 percent colder than last winter during the same time period. 

“Heating and cooling typically accounts for nearly half of a home’s annual energy use,” said Jeannette M. Mills, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “Although BGE’s commodity prices have remained stable and customers are seeing rates for both electric and natural gas at some of the lowest prices in the past decade, extreme weather generally triggers significant increases in energy usage, which in turn can lead to higher-than-expected bills. Even when the thermostat is kept at the same temperature, heating units must work harder to maintain the set temperature. Additionally, old or inefficient heating systems typically use more energy than newer, more efficient systems.”

Though this winter is expected to be colder than last winter, this winter’s projected total gas bill would be the second lowest total winter gas bill for BGE customers in the last 10 years, second only to last year.  This is a result of stable, lower global natural gas prices and BGE’s commodity acquisition strategy.

While gas and electricity usage for most customers increases during extremely cold weather, usage for customers who heat with electric heat pumps may actually double because auxiliary heating is activated when the temperature drops to below freezing. In addition, colder temperatures can keep family members inside more often, which can result in an increase in energy use for lights, heat, cooking and electronics.  

Customers are encouraged to set the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower. For every degree below 73 during the winter, customers may save two to four percent on heating costs. Customers who heat with natural gas should consider setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night.

Shopping for a competitive third-party supplier, combined with the offerings from BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program® <https://www.bgesmartenergy.com/smart-energy-savers-programs> , provides customers with many options for reducing their energy bill and better managing energy costs this winter. In addition to rebates for qualifying energy-efficient appliances and price mark-downs on energy-efficient lighting, customers should also consider scheduling a Quick Home Energy Check-Up <https://www.bgesmartenergy.com/residential/quick-home-energy-check> , which consists of a visual inspection of the home to determine its level of energy efficiency and recommendations for improving its efficiency. 

Customers may also want to consider BGE’s Budget Billing <http://www.bge.com/myaccount/billsrates/Billing%20Options/Documents/BGE_FactSheet_BudgetBilling.pdf>  program, which evens out payments over a 12-month period so customers are not as affected by increases in usage triggered by extreme weather conditions.

BGE recognizes that there are some customers who may be challenged to pay their heating bills. For qualifying customers, financial and billing assistance <http://www.bge.com/myaccount/waystopay/Pages/Financial-Billing-Assistance.aspx>  is also available.

“Through energy assistance application events and energy conservation workshops and outreach, BGE has already reached more than 370,000 customers this year,” said Mills. “Other resources available to our customers include our Consumer Reference Book <http://www.bge.com/customerservice/Documents/ConsumerReferenceGuide_Residential.pdf> , which is mailed annually to every residential customer and is available on bge.com. BGE’s Community Resource Guide is also available to customers on our website.” 

BGE encourages customers not to wait until they are in crisis to ask for help but rather to contact their local Office of Home Energy Programs <http://www.baltimorehousing.org/community_ohep>  online or by calling 1.800.352.1446 to apply for energy assistance before receiving a turn-off notice or having service denied. Residents of Baltimore City should call 410.396.5555

The following are steps that all customers can take to reduce energy consumption and lower heating bills: 

·         Have the furnace checked by a licensed professional to be sure it is operating efficiently. 

·         Consider BGE’s Quick Home Energy Check-up <https://www.bgesmartenergy.com/residential/quick-home-energy-check>  or Home Performance with ENERGY STAR <https://www.bgesmartenergy.com/residential/home-performance-energy-star> .

·         Change the furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter forces the furnace to work harder.

·         During the winter, for systems other than heat pumps, set thermostats at 68 degrees F, if health allows. This can help customers see a 3-4 percent decrease in energy use.

·         Consider a programmable thermostat, which can save 10-25 percent in energy costs all year when programmed to lower temperatures when no one is home in the winter and higher temperatures when no one is home in summer. 

·         Install an approved insulation blanket around the water heater and insulate the first three feet of water pipe (keep insulation at least 6 inches from the flue on gas water heaters). 

·         Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F.

·         Wash clothes in cold or warm water and rinse in cold water to reduce water heater usage.

·         Caulk and weather strip windows and doors to keep cold air out.

·         Go to www.bge.com <http://www.bge.com/Pages/default.aspx>  and www.bgesmartenergy.com<https://www.bgesmartenergy.com/smart-energy-savers-programs>  for more energy-saving tips.

 

BGE <http://www.bge.com/Pages/default.aspx> , headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 655,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,400 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is a subsidiary of ExelonCorporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with 2012 revenues of approximately $23.5 billion.