Jeannette Mills, Sr. VP and Chief Customer Officer
Fireworks, parades, food, and an appreciation for our freedoms – these are the things that easily come to mind when we think of Independence Day.
With all of the excitement that this holiday brings however, it’s sometimes easy to lose focus on the importance of safety. So, as we do every year, BGE wants to remind customers and employees to keep safety first in everything we do. Whether you’re traveling, outdoor grilling, heading to the pool, or watching fireworks, always be mindful of your surroundings and take the time to review all activities with a critical eye. If adding a few seconds or minutes of inspection can spare an accident or injury, then it’s well worth the time.
Speaking of time, many of you will spend much of it on the road this weekend. Did you know that the July 4th holiday, according to AAA, is the busiest travel holiday of the year? It’s estimated that this year, nearly 40 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles or more for this upcoming weekend. To our customers that plan to vacation this weekend, consider applying a few energy savings measures to conserve energy while away. Here are some tips from our energy partner – ENERGY STAR:
As you get ready to travel—even if it's a short trip, like 4th of July weekend—don't forget to take these few easy steps at home before you leave:
Turn up your thermostat to 85 degrees (unless you're leaving pets at home, of course). Experts agree that the energy saved from turning your thermostat up in the summer while you're away is greater than the energy used to cool your house back down after you return.
- Close window blinds and shades to block out the sun's heat. It's amazing how much indoor heat simply comes from the heat of the sun though the windows. Most ENERGY STAR qualified windows reduce the "heat gain" into your home more than typical windows do, without reducing the visible light. You get the light you need without the uncomfortable heat.
- Avoid wasting energy on unused electronics while you're away by unplugging them—including hand-held electronics that might be charging, such as phones, MP3 players, chargers, TVs, DVD Players, PCs and even laptops.
- Aside from those one or two lights that you may want to leave on for safety, make sure everything else is turned off—all lights, ceiling fans, the alarm on your radio, and other small appliances.
For additional details on ways to save energy, whether you’re vacationing or staying home, please visit BGE’s SummerReady site and take the virtual home tour. The tips you’ll find may help you celebrate your own independence from excessive energy and provide more manageable bills.
Wishing you all a Happy and Safe 4th of July.
In celebration of Independence Day, BGE’s corporate offices will be closed. We will reopen on Tuesday, July 5 at 8 a.m. Our crews will be ready to respond, however, in the event of an emergency. If you see downed wires, or suspect a gas leak, please call from a safe distance 410.685.0123. Power Outages should be reported by calling 1.877.778.2222.
David Conn, Director of Energy Assistance
At BGE, we have a million reasons to make home energy both safe and affordable – 1.2 million, to be exact. That’s how many customers we have, both residential (1.1 million) and commercial (100,000). But we recognize that a sizable number of those customers struggle to meet their home energy needs.
So just over two and a half years ago, BGE launched a new initiative aimed at helping our limited income customers avoid bill payment crisis. This Limited Income Strategy is a comprehensive and collaborative effort to make home energy manageable for all of our customers. It was intended to both coordinate and build onto the many programs BGE has offered for years to help our most vulnerable neighbors.
This strategy also recognizes that when people struggle to pay their utility bills, there are many negative consequences – to the limited income households themselves, to BGE’s financial stability, and to all other BGE customers, who ultimately shoulder some of the burden of non-payment.
In the coming months I’ll share with you some of the projects and programs BGE is undertaking as part of the Limited Income Strategy. In the meantime, I hope you’ll visit our Energy Assistance
Web page, where you can learn more about the strategy, as well as how you can help some of our most vulnerable neighbors, such as by making tax-deductible contributions to the Fuel Fund of Maryland
And if you know of anyone who could use a little help paying their bills, please visit our page on Financial and Billing Assistance
, where you can learn about all the sources of support for households in need.
In the most important ways, we’re all in this together. I welcome your comments and suggestions about how BGE can work better and smarter to help all of our customers manage their home energy needs.
Jeannette Mills, Sr. VP and Chief Customer Officer
In April, BGE announced that electric rates would drop beginning June 2011. Well, June 2011 is here and indeed, there will be an approximate 14 percent decrease in the electric commodity portion of your bill, for those customers who purchase their electricity directly from BGE.
While every customer appreciates lower rates, keep in mind that a household can still experience higher bills if the energy usage is higher than normal, such as during the recent heat wave we experienced. To keep bills low, we still advise you to be as energy efficient as possible. For tips on reducing your usage and managing your energy bill, visit BGESmartEnergy.com
or our SummerReady
So, what is the “commodity portion” of your bill? And why are electric rates dropping in the first place?
First, it’s important to know that BGE does not generate electricity or produce natural gas. We purchase energy from generation suppliers and our customers share the cost of that purchase - based on the amount of energy they use. It’s similar to the price you pay for gas at the pump. Every customer of a given gas station will pay the same rate per gallon for the same grade of gas. The more gallons you buy, the more it costs.
BGE’s new rate for electricity (9.2 cents per kilowatt/hour, or “kWh”) is now lower for BGE customers, but your overall bill will depend on how much electricity and gas you consume. The distribution portion of the bill – which is charged to all BGE customers, regardless of which commodity supplier they choose – did not change.
So why is the commodity cost of electricity falling? There are a couple of reasons for the downward trend, most of them related to a drop in the overall demand for energy. Let’s look at a few:
An economy still trying to find stability. More families and businesses are reducing their usage to save money.
Customers have an interest in protecting the environment. Some customers are conserving energy to be more environmentally friendly, including through participation in some of BGE’s Smart Energy programs.
More energy-efficient appliances and devices. Today’s appliances and systems are designed to use less energy for the same amount of work than previous models.
While all of these factors help reduce the demand for energy, which generally reduces the price, one more reason why rates are falling is the decline in the price of certain fuels, like natural gas, that are used at power plants to generate electricity. The lower fuel costs at power plants are contributing to lower rates on our customers’ bills.
On top of lower demand and lower fuel costs, customers are also benefiting from the competition of third party energy suppliers. Many of our customers have received brochures, phone calls and even personal visits from energy supplier representatives offering competitive rates. Nearly 225,000 BGE customers are currently comparing rates and shopping for an energy supplier.
If you would like to research the many different suppliers approved to sell energy in Maryland, visit our Energy Choice
page. We always encourage customers to research available options to make the best selection for their household or business.
BGE recognizes that our customers are interested in finding ways to save money; and while lower rates is a good starting point, reducing usage and demand is key to keeping bills manageable.
Until the next time.
Chris Walls, Manager, Conservation Programs
Baltimore set a record last summer, with more than 50 days of 90 plus degree heat. With this summer only weeks away, is your home prepared for the oncoming warmer temperatures? By making some simple adjustments to your home, you can increase your energy efficiency and reduce the amount of energy it takes to keep cool.
Here are some practical measures you can take to save energy this summer:
Keep cool air in and warm air out – Seal cracks in your walls, around windows and other crevices to keep cool air from escaping and warm air from entering your home.
Reduce the amount of sunlight that enters your home – Close blinds and drapes during the day to keep out the sun's heat. In the evening, open blinds and drapes and let the heat escape through the glass.
Maintain your air conditioning – Replace your filter regularly, keep your system from overworking and extend its life span. Remember to have your system regularly maintained by a trained technician according to its manufacturer’s recommendations.
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat – Programmable thermostats designed for your HVAC system can help you better control your cooling costs by keeping a daily or weekly climate schedule. They store and repeat multiple daily settings so you rarely ever have to make an adjustment, although you can usually manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. If you have central air conditioning or a heat pump, consider signing up for PeakRewardsSM. BGE will install a programmable thermostat in your home at no additional cost.
Do you have a few summer saving tips you’d like to share with us and other BGE customers? Feel free to send us your comments. Also, if you’re looking for more BGE tips and programs visit our Summer Ready page or BGESmartEnergy.com There, you’ll find details on programs such as our Quick Home Energy Check-up, our Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® and information on discounts and rebates for qualifying appliances and light bulbs.
Wishing you an energy–efficient summer.
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