CHARLESTON, W.Va., January 3, 2018 - As the frigid temperatures that closed out 2017 continue to grip the region this week, Appalachian Power is urging customers to plan for the possibility of higher electric bills.
'The colder it is outside the more energy it takes to keep it warm inside, so in this extended cold spell I would anticipate an increase in electric usage for customers who heat with electricity,' said Appalachian Power spokesperson Phil Moye. 'This increased usage will result in higher bills.'
With temperatures dropping down to single digits across West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, Moye said that electric heating systems will run longer and work harder to maintain warmth inside homes.
'If the outside temperature is 50 degrees, heating systems might only need to run a few minutes each hour to maintain the inside temperature, ' Moye said. 'But when the temperature drops to near zero and below, the system runs more often and longer to maintain temperature. If the system is a heat pump, less efficient supplemental electric resistance heat automatically comes on when the outdoor temperature is below 30 degrees.'
There are several simple things customers can do to help lessen the burden of a higher bill including:
Check out Appalachian Power's newly redesigned bill for graphs that compare last year's monthly usage to this year's, plus the average daily cost and average temperature. Meter-reading schedules can vary from 28 to 35 days, so the average daily cost graph is a more useful comparison than the overall bill amount. If the kilowatt-hour kWh usage is more than 25 to 30 percent higher than last year's, or if customers have any questions, the next step should be to contact Appalachian Power's 24-hour Customer Operations Center at 1-800-956-4237 in Virginia; 1-800-982-4237 in West Virginia; and 1-800-967-4237 in Tennessee. A representative can review the account and help arrange a personalized payment plan.
Sign up for the Average Monthly Payment (AMP) plan, which evens out payment through the year to account for seasonal spikes in usage caused by heating and cooling. Bills adjust on a 12-month rolling average and change only slightly each month. Again, a customer service representative can provide more information on an AMP plan.
Air leaks, lack of insulation and lack of heating system maintenance are three major areas in a home that contribute to wasted electricity. Customers should consider addressing these three areas to help lower their energy usage.
West Virginia and Virginia customers can learn where they are losing energy by taking advantage of a home energy assessment by Appalachian Power's energy efficiency program TakeCharge. An energy specialist will conduct a walk-through with the homeowner. In addition, customers can participate in a self-service online energy check-up at no cost. Visit www.takechargewv.com or www.takechargeva.com for more information.
Appalachian Power has 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP owns the nation's largest electricity transmission system, a more than 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP also operates 224,000 miles of distribution lines. AEP ranks among the nation's largest generators of electricity, owning approximately 26,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP supplies 3,200 megawatts of renewable energy to customers.