CHARLESTON, W.Va. — You could be paying more to heat your home because of bitterly cold temperatures in recent days.

Appalachian Power Company is urging customers to plan for the possibility of higher electric bills.

“With the extended cold spell that we’ve had, electric usage is going to go up for people who heat with electricity. Along with that increased usage comes higher bills,” said Phil Moye, company spokesman.

It takes more electricity to heat a home when it’s below freezing outside, Moye said.

“When it’s 50 degrees outside and you’re trying to keep in 70 inside, that’s only a 20 degrees difference so it doesn’t put much stress on the heater,” he said. “When it’s zero outside, from that thin wall to the outside-inside and you’re trying to keep it 70, that’s a 70 degree temperature difference. It really makes that heating system work hard to keep your house warm.”

Moye recommends isolating certain rooms in the house if you have baseboard heating. He said with temperatures in the single digits, customers should keep the heat on at all times.

“If you have a central system like a heat pump, it’s best just to keep the temperature at a fairly constant level,” he said.

Appalachian Power lists the following suggestions to lessen the burden of paying more for electricity:

  • Check out Appalachian Power’s newly redesigned bill for graphs that compare last year’s monthly usage to this year’s, plus the average daily cost and average temperature. Meter-reading schedules can vary from 28 to 35 days, so the average daily cost graph is a more useful comparison than the overall bill amount. If the kilowatt-hour kWh usage is more than 25 to 30 percent higher than last year’s, or if customers have any questions, the next step should be to contact Appalachian Power’s 24-hour Customer Operations Center at 1-800-982-4237.
  • Sign up for the Average Monthly Payment plan, which evens out payment through the year to account for seasonal spikes in usage caused by heating and cooling. Bills adjust on a 12-month rolling average and change only slightly each month.
  • Air leaks, lack of insulation and lack of heating system maintenance are the three major areas in a home that contribute to wasted electricity. Customers should consider addressing these three areas to help lower their energy usage.
  • West Virginia customers can learn where they are losing energy by taking advantage of a free home energy assessment by Appalachian Power’s energy efficiency program TakeCharge. An energy specialist will conduct a walk-through with the homeowner. In addition, customers can participate in a self-service online energy check-up. Visit www.takechargewv.com for more information.

On Tuesday, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper asked the company to lower its rates in response to the cold temperatures.

Moye said trying to combine property taxes with rates that are charged to their customers are two separate issues.

“Our property tax assessment is based on income, which is different from the way most people think about property tax. When our income ends up significantly higher or lower than projected, the amount of property tax we owe should reflect that,” he said. “The issue on which Mr. Carper opined is about how much we pay in property tax. It doesn’t relate at all to the rates.”

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