By BRIAN GRAVES
Cleveland Utilities may control the rates, but they can’t control the weather.And while the local utilities have not raised rates, Mother Nature has really lowered the temperatures.That means CU …
Cleveland Utilities may control the rates, but they can’t control the weather.
And while the local utilities have not raised rates, Mother Nature has really lowered the temperatures.
That means CU customers should expect their next bill to be, at worst, almost double what they may expect on an average bill.
“We just want our customers to be aware these are not normal circumstances,” said Jamie Creekmore, CU supervisor of customer relations.
“There are times when we may have a day or two of cold weather, but it is a rare occurrence when we experience an entire week of sub-freezing temperatures,” he said.
“It’s important to note we have not changed the way we deliver our service and we are a nonprofit entity,” Creekmore explained. “The fundamental reason we see electric usage increases this time of year has everything to do with weather.”
He added it is somewhat of an urban myth that high utility bills during this time of year are because of Christmas lights.
“It’s really a battle with outside temperatures and what you want it to be inside,” Creekmore said. “The greater the difference in those temperatures results in higher energy usage to achieve the desired inside temperature.”
He adviced for those whose the bills may have caught customers unaware and may have more difficulty than others in meeting that amount, there are many agencies who assist in those matters.
“We do partner with Cleveland/Bradley Community Services,” Creekmore said. “They do this as a function of our Project Roundup and they can be reached at 423-479-4111.”
He re-emphasized the higher bills are not because of rates.
“The employees of Cleveland Utilities are experiencing the same sticker shock as everyone else,” Creekmore said.
He added CU has several different types of payment options such as pre-pay which might be helpful to better control the bills, but Creekmore adds those options may not be for everyone.
“We just wanted to be very upfront with what we are experiencing,” Creekmore said. “Although we are expecting temperatures in the 50s next week, this week of extreme cold will have an effect on your next bill. It will not be because of a rate increase. We do everything we can to operate our utility efficiently to keep rates low.”
He also wanted customers to be aware of the danger of frozen water pipes, noting the best practice is to ensure pipes are properly insulated.
Creekmore said the utility does everything it can to educated customers on the best energy practices throughout the year.
Some of those that may help for the next few days and weeks include:
1. Use the sun for free heat.
2. Bundle up with warm accessories
3. Use ceiling fans which when turning clockwise will trap heat in rooms during the cooler months.
4. Adjust the thermostat at night.
5. Keep furnaces clean and unblocked.
6. Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
7. Invest in insulation.
8. Only use exhaust fans when necessary.
The utilities also offers a free energy assessment of homes to determine what ,if anything, homeowners or landlords might be able to do to further reduce energy bills throughout the year.
Creekmore said CU is ready to answer any questions or concerns for customers about any subject.
“We want our customers to be assured we understand how difficult this is and we want to do our best to help in anyway we can,” he said. “We are as anxious for spring as anybody else!”
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