For Immediate Release
BALTIMORE, Jan. 6, 2014 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) is closely monitoring the approaching arctic weather system forecasted to bring frigid temperatures and periods of high winds to
BGE’s central Maryland service area throughout the next several days. BGE has increased natural gas and electric crew resource staffing to safely and quickly respond to customer concerns that occur during this period.
BGE also encourages customers to conserve energy and ensure that they are prepared with a winter emergency plan and supplies. Although BGE commodity prices remain stable, the forecasted extremely low temperatures will likely cause energy usage to increase, even for customers who leave their thermostats at a set temperature. Heating systems must work harder and longer to maintain the set temperatures when the weather is extremely cold, potentially causing bills to be higher than expected.
"During the colder months, heating systems typically account for more than 40 percent of customers’ energy bills because extreme weather generally triggers significant increases in energy use at home," said Carol Dodson, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. "Even when the thermostat is kept at the same temperature, heating units must work harder to maintain the set temperature. Without taking steps to save energy during these times, energy bills will reflect additional usage and will likely be higher than in months when temperatures are more moderate. We encourage all customers to think about simple steps they can take in their home to save energy each day, no matter the temperature outside."
Customers who heat with older model electric heat pumps are especially vulnerable to sharp increases in usage when auxiliary heating is activated during cold weather. Customers are encouraged to set the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower. For every degree below 73 during the colder months, customers may save two to four percent on heating costs. Customers who heat with natural gas should consider setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night.
"While colder temperatures are the primary driver for increased energy use during the heating season, there are many other contributing factors, some of which may not be as obvious," said Dodson. "When it’s bitter cold outside, many families spend more time at home, cooking, watching television, and using computers and other electronics. While we can’t control the weather, customers can control how they use energy, even during periods of extreme temperatures."
The WinterReady section on bge.com is specifically designed to help customers weather the cold temperatures that affect central Maryland each year. The following are steps that all customers can take to reduce energy consumption and lower heating bills:
* During the winter, for systems other than heat pumps, set thermostats at 68 degrees F, if health
allows. Natural gas customers should consider setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day
and 65 degrees at night. This can help customers see a 3-4 percent decrease in energy use.
* Change the furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter forces the furnace to work harder.
* Install an approved insulation blanket around the water heater and insulate the first three feet of
water pipe (keep insulation at least 6 inches from the flue on gas water heaters).
* Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F and conserve hot water when you can.
Heating water is the second largest energy user in your home in the winter months.
* Open curtains and drapes during the day, to let the sun warm your home, and close them at night for
* Don’t heat unused spaces. Close vents in unused rooms and shut doors to unused rooms, closets
* Caulk and weather strip windows and doors to keep cold air out.
* Check/add attic insulation to reach a level of R-38 or 12 inches.
* Wash clothes in cold or warm water and rinse in cold water to reduce water heater usage.
* Over the long term, make your home or business more energy efficient, using BGE’s Quick Home
Energy Check-up or Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, improved insulation, high
efficiency appliances and other measures. The Winter Ready section on BGE’s website is
specifically designed to help customers reduce energy usage and weather the cold temperatures that
affect central Maryland each year.
* Have the furnace checked by a licensed professional to be sure it is operating efficiently and seal
any leaks in furnace ducts. BGE offers rebates for these and other home efficiency improvements
through the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®.
Shopping for a competitive third-party supplier, combined with the offerings of BGE’s Smart Energy Savers
, provides customers with many options for reducing their energy bill and better managing energy
costs this winter. Customers are encouraged to visit bge.com and www.bgesmartenergy.com for more
For those customers enrolled in the voluntary PeakRewards
Saver Water Heater Switch program, BGE may activate a cycling event, which is expected to last up to
three hours in the morning and evening. For those customers who have agreed to have a water heater device
installed in exchange for bill credits, BGE will turn off electricity to their water heater, meaning water will
not be heated until the event ends. In most cases, water in the tank prior to program activation will remain
warm. BGE is unable to predict when the cycling event will end, however, customers participating in the
water heater programs can stay updated about cycling event on the PeakRewards
Event Central Page and
can also sign-up to receive email or text message alerts through their BGE.com accounts. Details on how to
sign-up for cycling event notifications are available on: BGEsavings.com/peakrewards-notifications.
Additionally, while BGE does expect to be able to meet increased natural gas and electric demand in
response to the forecasted cold temperatures, BGE does encourage customers to prepare in advance for any
weather-related service interruptions. Although overall reliability has improved by approximately 20 percent
since 2010, as a result of consistent investment in infrastructure improvements, extreme weather can cause
service interruptions. BGE continues to invest in infrastructure improvements to further reduce the number
and duration of customer interruptions. BGE appreciates customers’ efforts to prepare in advance for cold
weather and to assist BGE by reporting any service issues or down wires, should they occur.
Emergency preparations should include:
* Staying informed – Be aware of changing weather conditions and plan ahead. Have a battery-
powered radio with a weather band so you can hear emergency information when the power is out.
* Making a plan – Discuss and document an emergency plan with those in your care. Develop an
emergency plan that includes alternative arrangements should the need arise to leave your home.
Make provisions for special needs of any family member such as the elderly, disabled, medically
affected or infants (Customers with Special Needs). If you are dependent on electric-powered
medical equipment, you are encouraged to seek alternate arrangements in the event that your
electric service is interrupted.
* Making a list of emergency phone numbers (including 877.778.2222 to report an outage or a
downed wire to BGE) and keep a personal telephone book and one corded phone or a cell phone
on hand. Customers are also able to report power outages from mobile phones and devices through
the mobile website at bge.com.
* Maintaining an emergency supply kit – Keep enough emergency supplies on hand for you and
those in your care. Remember supplies for children, those with special needs and pets. Keep the
following items readily available:
o Flashlights – not candles
o Fresh batteries
o Battery-operated clock radio
o Corded telephone
o Fully charged cell phone
o Non-perishable foods
o Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and
o First aid kit
o Local maps
Customers also should consider filling the fuel tanks of their vehicles in the event a power outage affects
service to neighborhood gas stations. For customers who rely on well water, filling a bathtub with water in
advance of severe weather is strongly encouraged. Any customers using generators or portable heaters
should carefully follow all safety instructions from the manufacturer. Improper use of this equipment or
other appliances can result in potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, fire or other dangerous
Customers can find information on preparing for extreme weather on bge.com and through myBGE on
Twitter and Facebook.
BGE, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power
to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 655,000 natural gas customers in
central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,400 employees are committed to the safe and
reliable delivery of gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation,
environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation
(NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with 2012 revenues of
approximately $23.5 billion. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.