BGE Provides Tips to Customers on Ways to Save Energy During Colder Weather
Customers encouraged to visit bge.com/WinterReady for information about preparing homes for heating season
BALTIMORE (Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE)encourages all customers 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.) – As cold temperatures continue to affect central Maryland this week,
“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. “Even when the thermostat is kept at the same temperature, heating units must work harder to maintain the set temperature. 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. 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.
“While 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.”
Shopping for a competitive third-party supplier, combined with the offerings of BGE’s 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 provides tools and information to help customers prepare for colder months.
In addition, BGE holds smart energy management and energy conservation workshops in communities throughout the year. For more information on upcoming events, visit bge.com. BGE also provides customers with its Consumer Reference Book, which is mailed to customers by request and is also available on bge.com.
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:
· 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®.
· 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.
· Natural gas customers should consider setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night.
· 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 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.
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.