Better hope for a warm winter - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Better hope for a warm winter

October 26, 2005

Albany- The Albany Water, Gas, and Light Commission is warning customers that bills could increase by as much as 80%, but there are things you can do if you want to avoid a huge utility bill.

Ron Rogers says he'll do all he can to keep his utility bills down this winter. "In fact I just bought some insulation today. I'm finishing the wife's laundry room," Rogers says.

He's hoping the added insulation and sheetrock will be a cost-effective way of helping to keep his family room warm. "I'm retired and on a fixed income, so we kind of have to watch our Ps and Qs," says homeowner Ron Rogers.

Hundreds of Albany Water, Gas and Light customers like Rogers have opened their bills to find an insert like this. It warns them about an anticipated 70 to 80 percent increase in winter fuel costs.

But officials say that doesn't necessarily mean everyone's bill will go up. "It's all by demand and weather-driven. So, if it's very cold and everybody wants to be warm, they're going to see a significant rise probably in their utility bills and we don't want people to be blindsided," says Lorie Farkas of WG&L.

Customers are also urged to save up during October, November, and December which are usually mild months and a time when bills are at their lowest. "If you've had a two or three, or four hundred dollar summer bill and now your bill is one hundred dollars or less then, stash that money away for the winter," Farkas says.

In addition, WG&L is urging all customers to schedule a free energy audit. They say auditors will come out to your home, show you ways you can keep the cold out and eventually save money. "Whether you rent or you own, it's just a terrific thing to do and we'll leave you with a list of ways to make your home more energy efficient," says Farkas.

You should also set thermostats at 68 degrees, check all windows and doors from drafts, and have your heater serviced before the winter chill sets in. Rogers says he also saves big by using his fireplace as often as he can. "I can get up in the morning and start a fire and run it all day until the evening, and that really does help," he says.

And Rogers says he'll take all the help he can get if it means it will save him money on his bill. Officials also say raising you body temperature by adding extra layers of clothing and turning your unit off when you're not home make a big difference in utility bills.

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