Cullman Electric Cooperative members can expect high bills due to extreme cold weather

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CULLMAN – As another winter storm brings sustained sub-freezing temperatures to North Alabama for the second time this month, Cullman Electric Cooperative wants members to be prepared for higher electric bills.


Electric bills tend to be higher during the winter months because consumers use more electricity to keep their homes warm, but for a lot of co-op members their next monthly bill is going to be even higher than usual. Cullman EC communications manager Brian Lacy said the sub-freezing temperatures experienced from Jan 12 -15, 2014, resulted in record-setting electricity usage. That will be reflected in the bill co-op members receive in the coming weeks.


“The record-low temperatures we experienced earlier this month led to increased electricity use, which means many members will receive a bill higher than usual for this time of year,” said Brian Lacy, Cullman EC’s communications manager. “We do not expect the cold weather to be as severe this week, but nighttime temperatures in the low teens will cause heating systems to work harder and longer, which will result in even more high electric bills.”


For some co-op members who receive their bill at the end of the month, this week’s blast of arctic air could fall into the same bill as the higher electricity usage earlier this month. Other members who already received a bill this month can expect this week’s deep freeze to be on their February bill.


Kim Arndt, Cullman EC’s manager of member services, said there are several ways the co-op can help, but members need to contact Cullman EC before their bill is due.


“We have several payment options as well as agencies in the community that can give financial assistance, but in order to avoid late fees or other penalties, members need to call our office once they realize they will need help,” Arndt said.


There are many things co-op members can do to reduce their electricity usage during cold weather and save money on their power bill, such as setting the thermostat no higher than 68 degrees, using blankets and wearing warm clothes around the house, and closing window blinds and curtains at night.


“For every degree you lower your thermostat, it saves about 2 percent off your power bill,” Lacy said.


Some additional cold weather energy savings tips include:


• Turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day when no one is at home.

• Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows. Also use locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant.  Reducing air leaks could cut 10 percent from an average household's monthly energy bill. The most common places where air escapes homes are: floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets.

• Insulate or increase the amount of insulation in your attic, basement and outside walls. Also cover through-the-wall air conditioners to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.

• Keep shades and curtains open during the day on the south side of your home to allow solar heating. Close them at night to retain heat.

• Close the fireplace damper when not in use.


Cullman Electric Cooperative is a member-owned cooperative serving 42,000 member accounts in Cullman, Morgan, Lawrence and Winston counties.