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Rachael Lighty

rachael.lighty@bge.com

BGE Provides Customers with Tips for Saving Energy Even During Extremely Cold Weather

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​Although commodity prices remain stable, extreme weather can trigger an increase in usage which may result in higher-than-normal bills

Customers are encouraged to visit bge.com/WinterReady for information about conserving energy throughout the winter months

BALTIMORE (Jan. 29, 2015) – Throughout the colder winter months, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) strives to provide its customers with important energy saving tips to help ease the sting of the frigid temperatures. Although commodity prices remain stable and total bills have seen a steady decline over the past several years, extreme weather can trigger an increase in usage, which may result in higher-than-normal energy bills.

For the period of November 1, 2014 through January 28, 2015, central Maryland experienced 584 hours when temperatures were at or below freezing, making this time period approximately 5 percent colder than normal weather conditions. However, due to declining electric and natural gas supply prices, impacted by the global energy markets, total monthly bills remain lower than in 2009. Even though prices are going down, as temperatures plummet energy use goes up.

"During the cold winter 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 Rob Biagiotti, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. "Although BGE commodity prices remain stable, the forecasted low temperatures will likely cause energy usage to increase, even for customers who leave their thermostats at a set temperature, as heating systems must work harder and longer to maintain the set temperatures. 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. On days when the temperature dips below freezing, a heat pump can use 2 to 3 times as much energy as it does compared to periods when the temperature is above 30 to 40 degrees.

"Although 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

Biagiotti. "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."

Customers are encouraged to visit bge.com/WinterReady for tips and information on saving energy, even on the coldest days. Customers can also find information about "winterizing" their homes and preparing their families for the winter heating season. BGE offers customers a variety of low-to-no-cost ways to make their homes more energy efficient, saving energy and money. The following are steps that all customers can take to reduce energy consumption and lower heating bills:

  • Manage your thermostat.
    • During the winter, for systems other than heat pumps, set thermostats at 68 degrees F, if health allows. This can help customers see a 3-4 percent decrease in energy use vs. thermostats that are set at 72 degrees.
    • Customers who heat their homes with a heat pump should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal energy efficiency.
    • Natural gas customers should consider setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night, if health allows.
  • Take advantage of natural sunlight. Open curtains and drapes during the day, to let the sun warm your home, and close them at night for insulation.
  • Do not heat unused spaces. Close the vents in unused rooms and shut doors to unused rooms, closets and basements.
  • Change the furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter forces the furnace to work harder.
  • Inspect your furnace. 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®.
  • Insulate your water heater. 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. Lower the temperature if you will be away from home for an extended time. Heating water is the second largest energy user in your home in the winter months.
  • 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.
  • Replace inefficient lighting: Replace your old standard incandescent bulbs with new compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. CFLs and LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 10 times longer.
  • Schedule a BGE Quick Home Energy Check-up or make your home more efficient with Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®.
  • Look for energy-efficient appliances: When shopping for appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, look for the ENERGY STAR label. Newer, more energy-efficient models lower monthly operating costs.

Shopping for a competitive third-party supplier, combined with the offerings of the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®, provides customers with many options for reducing their energy bill and better managing energy costs this winter. In addition to rebates for qualifying energy-efficient appliances and price mark-downs on energy-efficient lighting, customers should also consider scheduling a Quick Home Energy Check-up, which consists of a visual inspection of the home to determine its level of energy efficiency and recommendations for improving its efficiency.

Although prices remain stable and BGE offers innovative programs, BGE recognizes that there are some customers who may still be challenged to pay their heating bills. For qualifying customers, financial and billing assistance is also available.

To assist customers with their winter heating bills, BGE offers a Budget Billing program, which spreads payments out over a 12-month period so customers are not as affected by seasonal increases or spikes in usage.

BGE encourages customers not to wait until they are in crisis to ask for help but rather to contact the Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs online or by calling 1.800.352.1446 to apply for energy assistance before receiving a turn-off notice or having service denied.

For more information on cold weather energy saving tips, visit bge.com/WinterReady.

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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 2013 revenues of approximately $24.9 billion. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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