Despite electricity rate hike, it’s in your power to cut costs
AUGUSTA, Ga. - With Georgia Power rates set to rise 17% in June to cover higher fuel costs, you may be wondering what you can do to keep your bills down.
Between power-saving tips and assistance programs from the utility, you actually may be able to take the edge off the impact.
The big rate increase comes on top of a 2.5% hike last month and a boost to pay the costs of the third and fourth nuclear units at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.
But if you start making some changes now, the hikes may not hurt as much.
Deborah Thompson has been a Georgia Power customer for more than 17 years. Ever since her husband passed, she’s had to pay more attention to her finances.
“Being a widow and everything, you know, and on a fixed income, you are, you know, concerned about your budget,” she said.
She says a constantly fluctuating electricity bill makes it more difficult for her to budget.
“Oh yeah. Especially if it’s more than what I’m used to paying. So that means it’s taken away from another bill that those few dollars were supposed to go towards,” she said.
John Kraft with Georgia Power tells us the upcoming price hike isn’t a decision made lightly but with the customer in mind.
Instead of a two-year time period to recover from rising fuel costs, the company asked the public service commission to make that three years, saving customers $7 per month.
On top of that, he says the company regularly offers customers assistance with their bills.
“We work to connect customers with assistance agencies across the state,” said Kraft. “Project Share with the Salvation Army. We’ve been involved with that for decades.”
Customers like Thompson hope the price increase won’t hurt their wallets too much.
“It has been a concern. I’ve already said to myself that if I had to make changes, you know, I would,” she said.
Here are some energy efficiency tips:
- Thinking thermostats – Set your manual thermostat to 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter, for energy-efficient results, or install a smart programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts temperature settings when you are away from the house and save up to $100 a year in energy costs.
- Let it flow – Heating and cooling account for as much as 50 percent of a home’s typical energy usage. Maximize the efficiency of your units by changing the filters once a month, or every three months for pleated filters.
- Use your fans – Using a ceiling fan costs only about $1.50 a month and will help you feel cooler without having to adjust your thermostat.
- Air vents – To maintain consistent temperatures throughout your home, keep air vents and registers clear of obstructions such as furniture, curtains and rugs.
- Trim plants and change filters – To ensure your unit receives proper air flow, change any filters and trim plants around your outside air conditioning unit.
- Food storage - Set your refrigerator thermostat between 35°F and 38°F, and your freezer to 0°F to run at peak efficiency, but be careful not to overfill.
- Heat in the kitchen – Reduce the temperature inside your home by cooking food in the microwave or stove top instead of the oven when possible. Match pots and pans to the burner size to minimize heat loss. Use lids on pots to keep in heat.
- Get the “LED” in – Replace your current incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. Energy Star-certified LED light bulbs consume up to 75% less energy than conventional incandescent lights, helping you save money and resources.
- Caulk and strip – Caulk and weather-strip around your windows and doors. If the caulking is cracked, or the weather-stripping is damaged or peeling, replace the old material.
- It’s great to insulate – Keep warm and cool air where it belongs with proper insulation in attics and walls to help save energy 24/7.
Georgia Power also offers several energy efficiency programs that residential customers can take advantage of to improve the efficiency of their homes to better manage energy usage and power bills.
While some of the programs offer rebates to any customers, others are tailored to income-qualified customers, and even provide no-cost home improvements to improve comfort and efficiency year-round for customers least able to afford efficiency upgrades:
- Conduct a free, online energy checkup – Take a quick and easy online energy checkup that provides a customized energy usage report and ways to save money. Visit www.GeorgiaPower.com/EnergyCheckUp to get started.
- Home Energy Improvement Program – The program helps customers reduce energy use, save on energy costs and improve the indoor air quality and comfort of their homes. Residential customers can earn rebates from Georgia Power for installing qualifying energy savings improvements. Learn more at www.georgiapower.com/homeimprovements.
- Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Program – The program (HEEAP) helps eligible income-qualified customers make free energy efficiency improvements in their single-family homes. At no cost to the customer, a program contractor performs the recommended energy efficiency upgrades. Customers can learn more and apply at www.GeorgiaPower.com/HEEAP.
- Recycle your refrigerator – By recycling a secondary refrigerator or freezer, customers can save an average of $125 in energy costs per year. Sign-up at www.georgiapower.com/fridge.
Assistance when you need it
Georgia Power offers energy assistance programs in communities across Georgia and has established partnerships with nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations to assist income-qualifying customers with their energy costs. Programs include:
- Income-qualified senior discount – Georgia Power customers 65 years of age or older who meet the income requirements for eligibility can receive up to $24 a month off their bill.
- HopeWorks – HopeWorks and Georgia Power offer senior residential customers valuable information on ways to save money on their energy bill while keeping their homes comfortable and efficient. Income-eligible seniors can receive a complimentary in-home assessment analyzing potential energy-saving opportunities, followed by a free home energy improvement service performed by a participating program contractor.
- Salvation Army’s Project SHARE – Established in partnership with the Salvation Army, Georgia Power customers can provide assistance to residents in the same community for expenses, such as utility bills, housing, food and medical necessities. Customers can donate $1, 2, 5 or $10 on their monthly bill to support their neighbors in need. Georgia Power matches $1.50 for each dollar donated up to $1.5 million.
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