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Why are Winter Utility Bills Higher!?

02/05/2018

We're hearing it alot lately - "Why are winter utility bills higher?!"  Here's some information and tips on how you can save!

1. It’s been REALLY cold. Brutally cold. Below freezing for a majority of nights. The first week of January (which is included in the bills we're just getting) had overnight temperatures for one week of 16°, 12°, 11°, 19°, 13°, 10°, and 5°. That’s 7 days of brutally cold!

Did you know you can look at the temperatures for the Town of Clayton and compare your bills on our website? Use TempTracker365 and choose Clayton as your municipality. It’s an easy way to see how extreme hot or cold temps affect your monthly bill.

Check out December! Ouch!

Check out January temps!  BRUTAL!

CLICK HERE for an awesome ELECTRIC BILL CALCULATOR and find out how much today’s temperatures will affect your bill! It can also show you how much you could save if you adjust your thermostat! TRY IT! Then bookmark it! 

2. Bigger the house, the more energy it takes to heat. Poorer the insulation, the more energy is lost!  Bigger or older houses mean your heating system is using more electricity and working more to keep them warm, especially when the temperature outside dips below freezing. Sure, you might keep the thermostat at 68°, but your heating system works harder if it’s 5° outside, as opposed to °35. The bigger the difference between the outside temperature and desired inside temperature, the more your heating system must work. If you have two units and one breaks down, the remaining unit would work extreme overtime to keep up to heat the whole house.

3. But I have gas heat, not electric! Yes, the majority of American homes these days use natural gas — 57% according to Energy.gov. But even if you rely on natural gas as your home’s main heat source, in cold weather, your electricity bill can still jump drastically. That’s because your natural gas furnace almost certainly relies on an electricity-powered blower to help move hot air through your home’s duct work. When temperatures drop, that electricity-powered blower will operate longer and harder to help maintain the same temperatures in your home.

4. Remember, your Town of Clayton bill is EVERYTHING! It’s not just electric (although electric usually (and easily) accounts for more than half of your bill). Town of Clayton utility bills (except for Riverwood and some small pockets served by Duke Energy power) include your electric, your water, your sewer, AND your weekly garbage/recycling/yard waste/loose leaf collection. The price for garbage, recycling and yard waste by the amazing All Star is just $17.57 a month, incredible service that the Town was able to keep at the same price residents paid with our previous contractor, Waste Management.

5. You’re consuming more in winter!! We’re all inside more when it’s cold! The TV is on more! We cook and bake more during the holidays! We wash and dry more because we’re wearing more layers (and heating water takes power). Thermostats are set too high! The lights are on longer because of shorter daylight hours. And again, the colder it is, the longer and harder your heating system and water heaters work! Bottom line: our homes use more energy during the winter.

6. The Town charges a base rate, but YOU control your consumption! You decide where to set the thermostat, how many baths you’ll take, how long a shower you’ll take, how much laundry you’ll run and if you’ll run it on hot every load. The base rate for water is $15, the base rate for electric is $6.95, the base rate for sewer is $5.20. Everything after that is based on how much you consume. Electric is .1218 per kWh and that rate hasn't changed since 2015. So compare how many kW hours you used with last month, or last year compared to this year. We're seeing people's usage go up 45% on average this billing cycle due to the cold and increased heating usage. 

So what are you consuming?! And how does it compare to last year or last month? Find out – easily, on your online bill. Just go to “VIEW/PAY MY BILL” at the very top of our ClaytonNC.org website. Bookmark it! You can check your bill, your bill history, your consumption ANYTIME day or night – all you need is your account number and full name as it appears on your bill. (Don’t forget spaces, dashes and any punctuation in your account number and your name.) You can view actual print-outs of your bill or just click “Account History” and see the figures. The “Consumption Analysis” lets you pull out JUST water and sewer so you don’t have to look at garbage fees, etc. We know your consumption from meter reads and most homes in the Town of Clayton have electronic meters. That means they have the installed technology that allows us to automatically record the meter reading when we come to your house without having to manually write down the figures. It’s more accurate and efficient. 

7. SAVE ENERGY AND SAVE MONEY!

  • Adjust the temp! Your thermostat is the key to saving money! Set at 68° when you’re home. Heating costs can be 50-80% of your bill! Turn down the thermostat a few degrees when you leave home or go to sleep. Even one degree can make a difference! In fact, you bill could be 13% lower if you just bump your thermostat down from 72° to 68° - that’s just 4 degrees!
  • Switch to cold! Heating water to do the laundry is one of the largest users of energy in a typical home. You can save 7-11% on your bill by washing on cold only!
  • Lower your water heating costs! Water heating accounts for 14-25% of the energy used in your home. Turn down the water heater to the recommended setting of 120°.
  • Stop throwing money out your doors & windows! Caulk away the cold from your windows and doors by sealing up any leaks and preventing drafts with caulk or weather stripping.
  • Warm Clothing Saves! Instead of turning up your heat, how about bundling up with some warm accessories? A cozy sweater, maybe an Eagles sweatshirt and some socks are easy ways to save on your heating.
  • Bundle up your older hot water heater! If you have an older tank, and especially, if it’s located in an unheated area, wrapping it with an insulation blanket is a cheap and easy way to reduce water heating costs.
  • Comfy Warm Fireplaces – There’s nothing better than cozying up to the fire during the cold of winter. But make sure to keep an eye on your chimney. It can act like an open window when the fireplace is not in use. Be sure the damper is closed after the fire is out so you don’t lose your heated air.
  • Clean up! Changing and cleaning your filters regularly will help increase the efficiency and life of your furnace while helping to clean-up your energy bills.
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