GUC Responds To High Energy Bills

Andy Yakim, Energy Services Supervisor at Greenville Utilities, says he fields several dozens of phone calls a day this time of year from people who have unexpectedly high energy bills. In January, Eastern Carolina experienced very cold weather, leading to very high bills for many people.

As the temperature drops, heating systems must work harder to maintain a home's set temperature. Therefore, it costs you more money to keep a home at 68 degrees when the temperature outside is 32 degrees, than when the temperature outside is 50 degrees.

Additionally, Yakim says the relationship between the temperature outside and the energy it takes to heat your home is exponential.
It the temperature is 58 degrees outside, and your thermostat inside is set at 68 degrees, it takes a certain amount of energy (and money) to heat your home that ten degrees. If the temperature is 48 degrees outside, it takes much more energy to heat it ten degrees to a thermostat set at 58 degrees. When you start talking about temperatures in the 20s and 30s and thermostats in the 60s and 70s, it is an astronomical difference in how much energy it takes, and therefore an astronomical difference in how much money it costs. The colder it gets, energy gets a lot more expensive.

Yakim says it almost always costs more to heat your home in the winter than to cool it in the summer. Winter months require an adjustment of several dozen degrees. In the summer, we're only making an adjustment of ten or 15 degrees.

To heat your home efficiently, Yakim says the most important thing is to know what type of system you have.

If you have a heat pump: In the winter, Yakim suggests you select your lowest comfortable temperature, set the thermostat there and leave it alone on a day-to-day basis. The recommended temperature is 68 degrees. Yakim says heat pumps are efficient and economical to operate. However, all heat pumps come with a back-up heating system, which are not as efficient to operate. Yakim says when you adjust the thermostat on a heat pump system, even by one degree, it automatically forces the less economical back-up system to start running. That runs up your bill.

If you are leaving your house for a few days, Yakim suggests you turn your heat down on your heat pump system. You will save more money in the long run that way. Also, in the summer, the rules about not adjusting the thermostat on a heat pump system go out the window. Yakim says in the summer, you will save more money by adjusting your thermostat as comfort dictates, within reason.

If you have anything other than a heat pump: Yakim says every other type of heating system works most efficiently if you adjust your thermostat as needed daily and throughout the day. Other heating systems may include natural gas, oil, propane, geothermal, electric furnace and electric baseboard. Yakim suggests you turn the heat down or off if everyone is out of the house during the day. He recommends you turn the thermostat down at night when people can cover up with blankets.

It is much cheaper to turn your heating system off during the day and use the energy it takes to bring the temperature inside back to your desired comfort level, than to leave it at a lower temperature.

Space Heaters: They can be a good way to help supplement heating your home, Yakim says. However, if you try to heat your entire home on space heaters, it will end up being very expensive. Yakim says space heaters running on high cost 18 cents an hour to operate. That doesn't sound very expensive, but there are 720 hours in a month. Running a space heater constantly will cost $129.60 by the end of the month. However, Yakim says if you use a space heater just to warm up one room for 30 minutes, for example, in early in the morning, you can have that added comfort every day of the month for less than an extra $3 on your monthly bill.

Yakim also makes an interesting point about GUC. It is a not-for-profit utility company. In other words, GUC does not make more money by charging its customers higher energy bills. In fact, Yakim says it costs the company money because of the time and energy personnel spends on responding to customer complaints.

Many utility companies urge their customers to contact them about how to lower their energy costs. In addition to knowing what type of system you have and how it works most efficiently, you can make changes in how you use energy in other ways that can save you a lot of money. Yakim says you can start by talking to him at (252) 551-1525.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Pepper Larson Location: Greenville, NC on Feb 16, 2010 at 07:39 AM
    That is all a crock! My electric has sky rocketed when I am doing LESS. I don't turn on my gas guzzling thermastat and my bill still was 537.!(yes, I froze and even got sick). I do not cook, I have learned to move through the dark and yet I have a HIGHER bill? I think GUC is charging different rates according to where we live. I lived in a different area year before last and it was averaging 150-180 in the winter. I move in a new area and don't even turn things on because I got jipped once before and it is HIGHER? No way. GUC, you all are RIPPING people off. I know a lady that had only an $89 bill? WTF? EVERYONE that knows me is blown out of the water when they hear my bill. THEY ALL SAY: "Now I KNOW they are doing something wrong"!They say this because they KNOW that I don't use much energy and no heat! Explain that one somebody. Im so sick of hearing, "Well Jan. is a colder month". So what when I am not turning ANYTHING on! RIP OFF! GUC is a RIP OFF!!!!!!!!!!
  • by J on Feb 5, 2010 at 11:05 AM
    My parents in Fayetteville pay the same amount to their electric company for their 5 bedroom house with 4 residents that I pay for my 2 bedroom duplex in Greenville with 2 residents....
  • by Chuck Location: Greenville on Feb 4, 2010 at 07:48 PM
    Just Got my light bill today & It Is Down about $50.00. I Lowered the temp on thermostat to 65 & We fell ok.Just put a extra layer on the bed. If You insist on sitting the thermastat @ 75 then you will pay the price. I Also cut off the Hot Water Heater at night from 7PM Till 7AM. So Light Bill can be lowered if you are willing to cut back.
  • by A New Record Location: Winterville on Feb 4, 2010 at 05:53 PM
    I have to agree with enc. We have programmable thermostats, those cute new swirly energy efficient bulbs, a new energy efficient front loading washer, miles and miles of weather stripping around doors and windows and our power bill was still a new record. We bought all these things because they're suppose to eventually save us money over the long run, but what does GUC do? They just jack up the rates by 11% last year. I guess if you don't use enough power to their liking, they can just jack up the rates to make up the difference. Quite the nice catch-22 for those of us stuck under their greedy little thumbs.
  • by Stan Location: G'ville on Feb 4, 2010 at 05:28 PM
    My January electric bill is 33% higher than any bill that i've ever had from Greenville Utilities. I've been a customer for several decades. Did the billing formula change? Is GUC passing on a new expense that they now might have onto their customers?
  • by T Location: Gville on Feb 4, 2010 at 04:45 PM
    My husband who is an HVAC contractor says he is a liar. He says that a change of 1 degree on your tstat will NOT cause the heat strip to come on (the less economical) He said that the way the heat strips come on is if the heat has ran for 15 minutes and hasn't changed the temperature in the space. but if you run it up for 3 degrees more it will come on as auxillary heat. However complaints should be evaluated because it could mean that there is something is wrong with your unit and if the auxillary power comes on and stays on but most people won't know if they do not know what to look for and since the heat strips come on the house would still feel warm. He said it also needs to be determined what kind of windows, insulation and other things that use a lot of electricity to see if the heat is going out of the house.
  • by Ed Location: NC on Feb 4, 2010 at 04:24 PM
    To Mr Johnson in Tarboro I respectfully ask why you compare rates at GUC with providers in NJ and NY and not the NC providers where the cost structure should be similar. If electricity was deregulated as it should be, GUC would get their rates in line with everyone else in NC. Instead, Electricities has used a portion of our money to lobby for a protectionist policy that prevents fair competition instead of trimming the waste from their budgets. These fuel surcharges that are tacked on in addition to the electricity are unjustified when the bulk of the power comes from a nuclear facility because the fuel rods last for years before being upgraded. That makes the surcharge nothing more than an illegal rate hike that circumvents the process of getting one approved legitimately. The commentators here may be ignorant about electric markets but we know when we are being shafted. Frankly, I think its time the citizens of NC put some pressure on our legislators to close these loopholes.
  • by lynda Location: greenville on Feb 4, 2010 at 03:19 PM
    you guys must be doing something wrong - i've kept my heat on 68 degrees the whole winter, just like last winter, and my last bill was $136, which is pretty normal for a colder month - normal winter months its usually around 100-120. i don't know what is wrong with your houses, but you may want to add some insulation or have GUC come make sure they are reading your meter correctly. i did have a problem with them charging outrageous amounts for water last year, but complained - they checked it and it dropped by more than half. they were reading the meter wrong somehow.
  • by Keith Location: Greenville on Feb 4, 2010 at 03:00 PM
    GUC is a ripoff. They jack everybody's bill up in January. I used the same amount of electicity in December as I did in January and still got a ridiculously high bill. They can blame it all the they want on cold weather. They are wrong.
  • by southerngal Location: eastern nc on Feb 4, 2010 at 02:30 PM
    My electric is with Progress Energy and my light bill that was for the period Dec.9 - Jan.12 jumped almost 300 dollars so I dont even want to see the next one. All of these companies always find an excuse to blame it but the whole fact is they charge what they want to. Example at Christmas time your bill goes up because they think that everyone is burning christmas lights so they can use that as the excuse. For the last couple of weeks I have keep my heat turned down to the point we have to wrap up with blankets just to stay warm while sitting on the couch watching tv. Now we will see how high my bill goes and see what wonderful excuse they come up with.
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