Monday, May 26, 2008

Wallingford Electric Customers Get Double Jolt

Wallingford residents are about to get a double jolt when two increases to their electric rates go into effect. The summer rate increase, made during May to October, will add $7.46 to your monthly bill. But, because of the rising costs of wholesale energy, the Public Utilities Commission has also approved an additional $11.41 increase to the bottom line. This amounts to an $18.87 increase to your monthly electric bill during the summer months. This total is for an "average" residential customer who uses 870 kilowatt hours of electricity. If you are good at conserving energy, you'll see a smaller increase; if you run all your electric appliances full tilt all the time, your rates will jump accordingly.

According to the Wallingford Electric Division, the price they pay for wholesale power has increased from $37.6 million in 2004 to $62.1 million in 2008. The division buys its power from a Norwich-based co-op of municipal power companies.

I don't know about you, but any time the price of something I can't do without goes up, I get a little testy. The cost of gas has been headed north of $4.00 for some time with no end in sight, taking a lot of other things with it, like food, transportation, leisure activities, etc. I suppose it was only a matter of time before electric rates jumped on the bandwagon. The summer rate hike is only temporary, of course; it should be lowered again once the peak energy season is over in October. But I sure don't have to like it.

So what do ya do to ease the pain? Here are a few tips to take the bite out of those increases:

  1. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent ones. (Make sure you dispose of the fluorescent ones properly!)
  2. If you ain't using it, turn it off! This includes lights, TV, stereos, computers, appliances, transformers, chargers, AC, etc.
  3. Take shorter showers. Heating water can be up to half of your electric bill!
  4. Rinse dishes and do laundry in cold water.
  5. Open your curtains on cold days to let the sunshine help heat the room; close them on hot days to keep heat out and help increase the efficiency of your AC.
  6. Use ceiling fans correctly to draw cold air upwards through the room. (Cold air sinks, remember?)
  7. Line dry your clothes when possible.
  8. Use programmable thermostats. Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away.
  9. Don't open the fridge door too often, and fill up the fridge with food. Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn't have to work as hard to stay cool.
  10. Lastly, if you're looking for energy-saving investments, use ENERGY STAR® appliances and windows, install a whole house fan, increase attic insulation, consider using window shading, fix faulty weather stripping and caulking, or use a more efficient AC unit.
While these tips (and there are many more) won't eliminate your energy drain, it could possibly lower it enough to where you can still enjoy the warm weather, and rate hikes be damned.

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