Benton PUD has seen periods of extreme cold in both December and January. As a result customer usage is up substantially from normal levels.
Analysis by Benton PUD shows the average residential customer used 1,722 kilowatt hours in the month of December, compared to only 1,072 kilowatt hours in November. January usage is expected to be even higher.
“We are seeing increases in energy consumption for individual customers of 60-100% or even more as compared to the previous month,” said Paula Ball, Director of Customer Programs and Services.
The increase is primarily driven by much colder than average temperatures in December and January following the warmest November on record.
“It is not uncommon for utility bills to be higher this time of year. But this year, the colder than normal temperatures has really impacted the amount of electricity that customers used”, said Ball. “If a customer has a question regarding the increase in their bill, we encourage them to call us. We can discuss payment options and energy savings tools to help them on future bills.”
When temperatures drop, furnaces work longer using more electricity. People also spend more time at home due to weather which increases usage in lighting, electronics, appliances and heating water, especially over the holiday season or when school is cancelled or delayed.
In addition to weather, the length of daylight time, number of weekends during the billing cycle, holiday visitors, additional family members, and energy efficiency measures all add to the ups and downs of usage.
Ways to reduce usage include turning off lights and electronics when not in use, washing full loads in the dishwasher and letting dishes air-dry, using cold water and running full loads when washing clothes and taking shorter showers can all help reduce your bill. Energy tips are available on the website - BentonPUD.org or call 509-582-1234.There is also low income payment assistance information on the website.