As temperatures dip across the Carolinas this week, Duke Energy is reminding customers of resources, tips and tools to help them manage energy usage and utility bills.
Money-saving tips to combat the cold
Reduce your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. The smaller the difference between the inside and outside temperatures, the lower your energy usage and bills.
One of the easiest things customers can do for heating efficiency is to change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy and can increase costs. Also, have heating systems checked regularly by a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor to maintain efficiency and peak performance.
Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun's rays to warm the house, but close them at night to help insulate your home.
One of best energy-saving habits you can do each year is to check windows, doors and vents for air leaks. Caulking, sealing and weatherstripping leaks can save 10 percent to 20 percent in heating costs.
Replace standard bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED). LEDs are more efficient than regular bulbs, while giving off the same amount of light. Replacing just six of your most frequently used bulbs with LEDs can save up to $480 over the lifetime of the bulbs.
Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction in the winter, which pushes warm air back down into the room. (Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor.) While fans move air and make people more comfortable, they do not provide heat, so remember to turn the fan off when you leave the room.
Manage water heating. Set your water heater to 120 degrees or less. Water heating is typically the second biggest user of energy in your home.
Ways to manage winter heating bills
Duke Energy offers free programs and tools to help customers better manage and understand their monthly energy expenses:
Budget Billing gives customers better control over their energy spending by establishing predictable monthly payments.
Pick Your Due Date allows customers to adjust the date their bill is due.
Interest-free Installment Payment Plans are available for customers who need flexibility with paying a bill.
Usage Alerts notify customers how much energy they are using and how much it costs in time to adjust before the end of a billing cycle.
For customers who qualify, Duke Energy's partnerships with community and state agencies can help them access a range of state, federal assistance and Duke Energy programs, including:
Weatherization Program: Available in some Duke Energy service territories to help income-qualified customers save energy and reduce expenses through energy conservation measures like weatherstripping and HVAC repairs or replacements.
Share the Light Fund: Assists qualifying customers struggling to pay their energy bills. Employees, customers and Duke Energy shareholders contribute to these funds.
Customers can learn about agencies that serve their area by dialing 211, texting "electric" to 211211, or visiting sc211.org or nc211.org online. The free service helps connect customers to local community agencies supplying aid for a wide range of needs, including help with energy bills.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America's largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity.
Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,600 people.