Utility offers many options for customers to better manage energy usage during periods of extreme weather including Smart Energy Savers Program®, Summer Ready and Budget Billing
BALTIMORE, July 12, 2011 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that as a result of an extremely hot June and continued hot weather in July, which typically increases energy usage, some customers may experience higher energy bills in the coming weeks. Although electric commodity prices are down nearly 25 percent since 2009, increased energy usage during extreme weather can significantly impact customers’ energy bills. Additionally, even customers who leave their thermostats at a set temperature will experience an increase in usage when the temperature is extremely hot because cooling systems must work harder just to maintain the set temperature.
In June 2011, there were seven days when the temperature exceeded 90 degrees. For the first 12 days of July 2011, there have been seven days when the temperature exceeded 90 degrees.
“During the summer, cooling systems typically account for nearly half of a home’s energy usage,” said Jeannette M. Mills, senior vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “Although electric rates continue to decline, extreme weather generally triggers significant increases in energy usage, which in turn can lead to higher-than-expected bills. In particular, customers with central air conditioning may find that their electric usage has increased significantly during this most recent heat wave, which will be reflected in upcoming bills. We encourage our customers to conserve energy where they can, and take advantage of BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program®, which offers bill credits of up to $200, rebates on energy efficient appliances, discounts on energy saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs and more.”
BGE reminds customers that old or inefficient cooling systems typically use more energy than newer, more efficient systems.
To help customers manage summer cooling bills, BGE has enhanced the Summer Ready section of its website which includes interactive information about how homes use energy as well as low-cost and no-cost measures customers can take to improve the efficiency of their homes. Some suggestions include:
· Choose a programmable thermostat when enrolling in BGE’s PeakRewardsSM program and receive bill credits of up to $200 in the first year of participation. Programmable thermostats can save 15 percent on heating and cooling costs year-round.
· Set your air conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. For every degree you raise your thermostat setting about 72 degrees, you will save five to seven percent on your cooling costs.
· Take shorter hot showers. Heating water is the second biggest energy drain in your home.
· Have a professional check your central air conditioner to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency.
· Seal gaps around windows, doors and wall outlets.
· Check/add insulation in your attic to reach an R-30, the depth of 12 inches.
· Take advantage of BGE discounts on compact fluorescent lightbulbs which use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and burn cooler.
· Use only lights that are necessary.
· Consider unplugging computers, cable boxes and other electronics which stay on even when not in use.
Customers may also access BGE’s Online Energy Calculator to learn more about how their homes use energy. BGE also offers many incentives including rebates of up to $400 for participation in its Residential Heating and Cooling programs , bill credits of up to $200 for the first year of participation in the PeakRewardsSM program, as well as many other cost savings as part of BGE’s Smart Energy Savers ProgramSM.
To further assist customers with high summer bills, BGE offers enrollment into its Budget Billing program which spreads payments out over a 12 month period so customers aren’t as affected by seasonal increases in usage. Additionally, customers are encouraged to contact BGE early if they are having trouble paying their bill to discuss alternative payment options.
Limited income customers are strongly encouraged to apply for energy assistance before they are in crisis. For more information, contact the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) at 800-352-1446. Residents of Baltimore City should call 410-396-5555.
BGE, www.bge.com, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 650,000 natural gas customers in Central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,000 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is an indirect subsidiary of Constellation Energy, www.constellation.com, a FORTUNE 500 company also headquartered in Baltimore, with subsidiaries that generate, sell and provide other energy-related services to customers throughout North America.