Between Dec. 25, 2017 and Jan. 8, 2018, high temperatures in central Maryland were 35 percent colder than normal for that same period last year, causing BGE customers to use more energy as heating systems worked harder. According to the National Weather Service, Baltimore set a record for the coldest first week of January with an average temperature of 15.2 degrees.
During the first week of January, BGE recorded three of its top 10 highest natural gas customer-use days in the company’s history and PJM, the mid-Atlantic’s electric grid operator, saw two of its 10 highest winter electricity-use days.
Customers have a number of options to manage accounts to help offset the period of extreme cold. BGE is offering to accelerate customer enrollment into the company’s Budget Billing program, which averages payments over a 12-month period to help spread costs of higher usage months throughout the year. Typically, the enrollment process takes a full billing cycle. Budget Billing is available to customers who have up to $500 in arrearages. In addition, customers who are in good standing and current on their accounts may request a due date extension for more time to pay their bill.
More information on these and other options are available in the MyAccount section of BGE.com under Billing Options and Assistance Programs. In addition, customers who seek further assistance can call 2-1-1 Maryland.
Despite the frigid start, BGE reminds customers to save energy and balance against periods of higher use by following these simple energy-saving tips:
- Sign up for Energy Usage Alerts: Receive an early warning by phone, email or text if you are headed towards a bill that is higher than usual. This gives you time to reduce your usage before your next bill and helps to prevent billing surprises. Go to BGE.com/MyAccount to sign up.
- Adjust Your Thermostat Temperature Down: When you are at home and awake, set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable for you. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat down 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10 percent a year on your heating bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
- Lower Your Water Heating Costs: Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F) and save.
- Maintain Your Heating Systems: Most of your cold weather energy expenses are related to heating your home. Schedule service for your heating system to find out what maintenance is required to keep your system operating efficiently.
- My Account Online Tools: Your BGE online account contains tools and detailed energy usage information. By tracking your energy usage right after you use it, comparing usage trends, and discovering the results of energy-saving practices, you can manage your energy more efficiently. Log onto BGE.com/MyAccount to get started.
- 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 then close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Use Your Ceiling Fan: You can reverse the motor and airflow direction of ENERGY STAR® certified ceiling fans to operate the fan year-round. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan clockwise at low speed to produce a gentle updraft that forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.
- Use Energy Efficient Lighting: Install efficient LED bulbs to reduce lighting costs year-round.
- Quick Home Energy Check–up: This is a fast, easy and free way to increase the energy efficiency of your home and help you start saving immediately. When you schedule a Check-up, an energy efficiency professionals will come to your home and identify simple ways to help save energy and money. Visit www.bgesmartenergy.com to schedule.
- Download the BGE Mobile App: BGE’s new mobile app allows you to easily access your account information on the go. The app makes it simple to manage more than one account at a time and is available to both residential and business customers on a smartphone or tablet.
For customers who want to help others with their energy bills with gift payments, or through the Fuel Fund of Maryland and the Dollar Donation Fund, please visit BGE.com under Assistance Programs.