BGE Prepared for Consecutive Days of Frigid Temperatures and Provides Customers with Tips for Saving Energy Even During Extremely Cold Weather

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BGE Prepared for Consecutive Days of Frigid Temperatures and Provides Customers with Tips for Saving Energy Even During Extremely Cold Weather

Customers are encouraged to visit bge.com/WinterReady for information about conserving energy throughout the winter months

BALTIMORE (Jan. 6, 2015) – As temperatures dip and an artic weather system moves into central Maryland this week,Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) provides customers with energy saving tips to help ease the sting of the frigid temperatures. Just as BGE prepares for the colder winter months, the company encourages customers to ensure they are prepared for winter weather by having a winter emergency plan and supplies in place, before bad weather arrives. The forecasted weather system may bring high wind and wind gusts, which has the potential to bring tree limbs down onto power lines and electric delivery equipment. Customers are reminded to stay away from downed wires and to report both downed wires and power outages by calling BGE at 877.778.2222. Customers may also report power outages via mobile phones and devices at bge.com.

Customers are encouraged to visit bge.com/WinterReady for tips and information on saving energy, even on the coldest days. Customers can also find information about “winterizing” their homes and preparing their families for the winter heating season. BGE offers customers a variety of low-to-no-cost ways to make their homes more energy efficient, saving energy and money.

“During the colder months, heating systems typically account for more than 40 percent of customers’ energy bills because extreme weather generally triggers significant increases in energy use at home,” said Carol Dodson, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “Although BGE commodity prices remain stable, the forecasted low temperatures will likely cause energy usage to increase, even for customers who leave their thermostats at a set temperature, as heating systems must work harder and longer to maintain the set temperatures. Without taking steps to save energy during these times, energy bills will reflect additional usage and will likely be higher than in months when temperatures are more moderate. We encourage all customers to think about simple steps they can take in their home to save energy each day, no matter the temperature outside.”

Customers who heat with older model electric heat pumps are especially vulnerable to sharp increases in usage when auxiliary heating is activated during cold weather. Customers are encouraged to set the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower, if health allows. For every degree below 73 during the colder months, 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.

“Although colder temperatures are the primary driver for increased energy use during the heating season, there are many other contributing factors, some of which may not be as obvious,” said Dodson. “When it’s bitter cold outside, many families spend more time at home, cooking, watching television, and using computers and other electronics. While we can’t control the weather, customers can control how they use energy, even during periods of extreme temperatures.”

The WinterReady section on bge.com is specifically designed to help customers weather the cold temperatures that affect central Maryland each year. The following are steps that all customers can take to reduce energy consumption and lower heating bills:

  • Manage your thermostat.

o   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.

o   Customers who heat their homes with a heat pump should follow manufacturer’s instructions for optimal energy efficiency.

o   Natural gas customers should consider setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night, if health allows.

  • Take advantage of natural sunlight. Open curtains and drapes during the day, to let the sun warm your home, and close them at night for insulation.
  • Do not heat unused spaces. Close the vents in unused rooms and shut doors to unused rooms, closets and basements.
  • Change the furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter forces the furnace to work harder.
  • Inspect your Furnace. Have the furnace checked by a licensed professional to be sure it is operating efficiently and seal any leaks in furnace ducts. BGE offers rebates for these and other home efficiency improvements through the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®.
  • Insulate your water heater. 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 and conserve hot water when you can. Heating water is the second largest energy user in your home in the winter months.
  • Caulk and weather strip windows and doors to keep cold air out.
  • Check/add attic insulation to reach a level of R-38 or 12 inches.
  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water and rinse in cold water to reduce water heater usage.
  • Replace inefficient lighting: Replace your old standard incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. CFLs and LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 10 times longer.
  • Schedule a BGE Quick Home Energy Check-up or make your home more efficient with Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®.
  • Look for energy-efficient appliances: When shopping for appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, look for the ENERGY STAR label.  Newer, more energy-efficient models lower monthly operating costs.

Shopping for a competitive third-party supplier, combined with the offerings of the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®, 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, which consists of a visual inspection of the home to determine its level of energy efficiency and recommendations for improving its efficiency.

BGE also holds smart energy management and energy conservation workshops in communities throughout the year. For more information on upcoming events, visit bge.com. BGE provides customers with its Consumer Reference Book, which is mailed to customers by request and is also available on bge.com.

Although prices remain stable and BGE offers innovative programs, BGE recognizes that there are some customers who may still be challenged to pay their heating bills. For qualifying customers, financial and billing assistance is also available. Customers may also consider BGE’s Budget Billing 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 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 online or by calling 1.800.352.1446 to apply for energy assistance before receiving a turn-off notice or having service denied.

Winter also brings the potential for severe weather, including snow, ice and high wind and wind gusts, which can result in power outages. BGE appreciates customers’ efforts to prepare in advance for cold weather and to assist BGE by reporting any service issues or down wires, should they occur. BGE encourages customers to have essential emergency preparedness items and information available, including BGE’s outage reporting number, 877.778.2222. BGE also provides customers with the ability to report power outages online via BGE’s Facebook or Twitter page and on the company’s website, bge.com, which can also be accessed via mobile devices using the mobile-enabled version of bge.com. Customers can visit bge.com to view the company’s outage map and find information about storm preparedness and service restoration. BGE keeps customers informed throughout severe weather events using a variety of channels, including traditional news media, bge.com and its social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr).

In advance of the winter heating season, BGE completed several infrastructure enhancement projects and a comprehensive review of its natural gas and electric systems as part of its winter preparedness program, which will help ensure safe and reliable service for BGE’s 1.2 million electric and 655,000 natural gas customers throughout the winter months. The company has also secured its natural gas supply and completed filling storage facilities that will serve more than 655,000 BGE natural gas customers this heating season. BGE has invested more than $100 million in the company’s natural gas system this year, which is in addition to equipment inspections, repairs and replacements, as well as preventative maintenance work.

For more information on cold weather safety and energy saving tips, visit bge.com/WinterReady.