PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 26 -- PECO Energy Company issued the following news release:
- With energy prices poised to rise nationwide this winter, PECO provides ways for customers to manage their bill and take advantage of assistance programs.
Regardless of how customers heat their homes, they can expect to pay more this winter based on current commodity market conditions. While customers have experienced relatively low energy prices for several years, current trends are signaling higher energy bills for customers nationwide, whether they heat with natural gas, electric, heating oil, or propane.
The increases are affecting the overall commodity cost of energy – which impacts the cost of the energy supply that PECO purchases on behalf of customers who are not purchasing their energy through a competitive supplier. These charges are passed along directly to customers at exactly the price that PECO pays.
Customers who heat with natural gas are anticipated to see a pronounced increase, compared to the lower cost of natural gas that has been the norm for several years. The increase in natural gas prices will also have an impact on the price of electricity generation as well, given that natural gas is the primary fuel source for the electric generation process in our region.
Ensuring ample energy supply
PECO works in advance of the heating season to secure natural gas and electric supply to ensure the company can safely and reliably deliver the energy customers need. From a natural gas perspective, this includes purchasing natural gas from multiple sources through several natural gas transmission pipelines and filling storage facilities, to prepare for increased customer demand.
Natural gas bill impacts
In total, the natural gas used by customers – or the commodity charge – makes up about half of a residential customer's total bill. This is the portion of the bill that can be purchased from a competitive natural gas supplier.
Natural gas commodity costs fluctuate – either increasing or decreasing – based on many factors and PECO works to purchase natural gas at the least cost possible for customers. This is done by securing natural gas supplies incrementally based on future costs and filling storage facilities during the summer months when natural gas prices are lower. These costs change quarterly, as market prices change, and new rates will go into effect on December 1. While these new rates have not yet been finalized, it is anticipated that costs will increase if current market dynamics follow the current trajectory.
How customers can reduce the impact on their bill
Be Energy Efficient
Customers can take advantage of energy efficiency programs to save energy and money, including energy assessments that identify ways to save even more. To learn more about PECO's residential programs visit http://www.peco.com/waystosave.
By following a few simple tips and making straightforward energy efficiency improvements during the fall, customers could save 20 percent or more on their winter heating bills.
* Keep it sealed. A poorly sealed house is costlier to keep warm. Caulk around doors, windows, and any openings for utility services. Using the locks on your windows helps make a tighter seal that is more resistant to drafts. If you have a fireplace, keep your damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.
* Upgrade your insulation. Insulating your home can significantly reduce your heating costs, while also increasing the comfort of your home. Reducing air leaks – around floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, doors, windows, vents, and plumbing – could cut your home's average monthly energy bill by 10 percent.
* Check ducts for air leaks. Look for joints that are no longer connected. Leaky ductwork can increase your energy bill significantly.
* Warm up your system. Service your heating system before winter begins. A well-maintained system will last longer, operate more efficiently, and save you money. The potential for carbon monoxide exposure is possible if home heating equipment is not properly tested, serviced, and maintained.
* Manage your thermostat. Keep thermostats set at a comfortable level. You can save about two percent on your heating bill for every degree you lower your thermostat. When you are asleep or out of the house, try turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours to save approximately 10 percent on your heating bill. Consider investing in a smart thermostat that can connect to your mobile devices, helping you stay on top of your energy usage.
* Be prepared for cooler weather. Remove screens and air conditioners from windows and install storm windows.
* Do not heat unused areas. Close vents in unused rooms and shut doors to unused rooms, closets, and basements.
* Take advantage of the sun's heat. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
* Shorter days and longer lights. Adjust outdoor lighting timers as the nights grow longer. Replace older incandescent bulbs with new energy efficient LED bulbs.
Through PECO's MyAccount at https://www.peco.com/myaccount, customers can track their energy use, set up high usage alerts, get tips on how to reduce energy costs, and learn which appliances use the most energy.
Shop for Energy
Customers may be able to save money by shopping for natural gas or electricity with a competitive supplier. To find competitive natural gas or electric generation suppliers or learn more about shopping for natural gas or electricity visit the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's websites at www.pagasswitch.com or www.papowerswitch.com.
Bill Relief and Assistance Programs
PECO offers a variety of bill relief options and assistance programs to help customers make ends meet. PECO has made new payment plans available, which can spread outstanding balance payments up to 24 months, with no money down and no interest charged. In addition, budget billing makes short-term fluctuations in monthly bills easier to handle by dividing annual energy costs evenly throughout the year. Residential customers should act now and can find out more about options online at www.peco.com/help.
Additional customer assistance programs include:
* Customer Assistance Program (CAP): An annual credit for qualified customers based on household income and energy use.
* Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): A federal cash grant program offering up to $1,500 to help low-income customers manage their energy costs and ensure service during the heating season.
* Matching Energy Assistance Fund (MEAF): A program funded by voluntary contributions of customers and matched dollar for dollar by PECO for up to $1,000 in total assistance for those who qualify.
* Customer Assistance and Referral Evaluation Services (CARES): A referral and information service designed to assist customers who have special needs or extenuating circumstances that prevent the payment of their utility bill.
PECO, founded in 1881, is Pennsylvania's largest electric and natural gas utility. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PECO delivers energy to more than 1.6 million electric customers and more than 532,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. The company's 2,900 employees are dedicated to the safe and reliable delivery of electricity and natural gas as well as enhanced energy management conservation, environmental stewardship, and community assistance. PECO is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation's only Fortune 100 utility and leading competitive energy provider. For more information visit PECO.com, and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.
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Source: PECO Energy Company