Big chill makes for big bills - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Big chill makes for big bills

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Many of us are getting a major shock as we open our utility bills for the month of January. Georgia Power customers' energy use jumped 28% from December to January. Some people saw their bills double, even triple.

The power bill is one of those monthly expenses most of us dread, more this month than most after we had some of the coldest temperatures in more than 20 years last month.

As the outside temps dropped in January, many South Georgians bumped the thermostats up... which sent their bills in the same direction.  "I usually keep it at 68-70, and we just wrap up in blankets, trying to save money."

Even so, Eva Jackson's bill went up more than she wanted.  "It did. Probably about $100. I'm used to paying a $180 bill, well I just paid a $253 bill so it has really went up."

And she's not alone. On average, Georgia Power customers used 28% more power in January over December, which means their bills went up that much too.  "Most of 'em are real stunned."

Brenda Courson is a customer Service Representative at Georgia Power, and right now, she's dealing with some pretty unhappy customers. "Oh yes, they are very upset, because they don't have the money to pay the bill they cannot figure out how to pay it."

Especially when some people's bills more than doubled.  "I seen one this week that was over $900 and his bill the month before was $400, so that's a big increase." said Courson.

Some people are able to work out a payment plan to handle the bills, and many are signing up for a program that averages out the previous year's bills, so one flat rate is paid. It's a program Jackson plans to join.  "Because I'll know exactly how much my bill is going to be every month."

As for this month, she'll be keeping the thermostat steady.  "It's hard, but we're still going to keep it at 68." And here's why 68º is a good place for your thermostat to stay.

Raising your thermostat increases your bill, by about three to four percent for each degree you raise the temperature.

While power usage for Georgia power increased 28% from December to January, it was also up 23% this year over last, indicating just how cold of a winter we've had.

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