Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Releases Cold Weather Data for December 2010
BGE Customers Should Expect Higher Energy Bills During Upcoming Billing Cycles
BALTIMORE, Jan. 21, 2011 - Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), today announced that as a result primarily of a colder-than-normal December 2010, some customers may experience higher energy bills in the month of January than in prior years.
For November - December 2010, Central Maryland experienced 458 hours where temperatures were at or below freezing, 43 percent higher than the same period in 2009 when there were just 321 such hours. According to WSI Weather Service, December 2010 was 58 percent colder than normal and the 8th coldest December since 1950.
"Heating and cooling typically account for nearly half of a home's annual energy usage," said Jeannette M. Mills, senior vice president of customer relations and account services for BGE. "Although electric rates are approximately eight percent lower than last year, 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."
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 the auxiliary heating activates 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.
To help customers manage winter heating bills, BGE has also enhanced the Winter Ready section of its website which includes interactive information about how homes use energy as well as low-cost and no-cost measures customers can take to improve the efficiency of their homes. Customers may also access BGE's Online Energy Calculator to learn more about how their homes use energy. BGE offers many incentives including rebates of up to $400 for participation in its Residential Heating and Cooling programs as well as many other cost savings as part of BGE's Smart Energy Savers ProgramSM. Customers can also follow BGE on both Twitter and Face for real-time updates, energy-efficiency tips and information concerning BGE programs. To further assist customers with high winter heating bills, BGE is offering immediate enrollment into its Budget Billing program which spreads payments out over a 12 month period so customers aren't as affected by seasonal increases in usage. Typically, the enrollment process takes a full billing cycle.
Additionally, limited income customers are strongly encouraged to apply for energy assistance before they are in crisis. For more information, contact the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) at 800-352-1446. Residents of Baltimore City should call 410-396-5555.
BGE, www.bge.com, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland's largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 640,000 natural gas customers in Central Maryland. The company's approximately 3,000 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 Constellation Energy, www.constellation.com, a FORTUNE 500 company also headquartered in Baltimore, with subsidiaries that generate, sell and provide other energy-related services to customers throughout North America.