Paying for February in April

Infographic: How Your Home Uses Electricity: 53.1% Space heating and cooling, 16.9% water heating, 10.2% other, 4.6% refrigeration, 3.4% clothes washer dryer dishwasher, 3.1% cooking 1.7% computers

Stan Fields: “Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.”

Miss Rhode Island: “That’s a tough one. I’d have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.”

This scene from the 2000 film “Miss Congeniality” explains perfectly how many of us feel about April weather. Spring is here, you can open the windows and your heating and cooling system gets a break. Winter is a distant memory, but for many Benton REA members, the utility bill still remembers February.

If your April bill is higher than expected, check the dates of service. The region experienced unseasonably cold temperatures February 8-19. If your March bill did not include all of these days, expect to see higher use on your April bill.

“It’s easy to forget about February’s snow and how the prolonged cold affected electric heating systems,” says Eric Miller, energy advisor for Benton REA.

When temperatures drop, heating systems use more energy to keep you comfortable. Even if a thermostat is kept at the same temperature inside, the heat pump or furnace has to work harder when it gets colder outside—increasing energy use and bills as a result.

Space heating and water heating are the two biggest drivers of energy use in most buildings, accounting for up to 70% of energy use during the winter months.

Telephone Energy Audits

If additional space and water heating use during the February cold snap is not the reason for your high utility bill, Eric can review your energy use history and conduct a phone interview with you to determine what is causing your higher than expected energy use.

The installation of a hot tub or purchase of an electric vehicle or additional appliances may be the cause of higher energy use. Did you recently host family or friends who took long showers and cooked more food than usual? The problem could also be aging equipment, in which case Benton REA’s rebate and loan programs may help you get back to normal electric bills. Call Eric at 509-786-8265 to begin the conversation.

Budget Billing

To avoid seasonally fluctuating bills and stay within your monthly budget, Benton REA offers a budget billing plan. This free option averages electric use over a 12-month rolling period, keeping payments predictable and manageable.

Payment Assistance

Benton REA also works with its member-owners who are struggling to pay their bill. Members are encouraged to contact Benton REA for information about their payment assistance options, including the cooperative’s new Power To Care program—funded by members who choose to round up their monthly bill to help their neighbors.

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