With seasonal winter weather on the horizon and an increase in the cost of energy across the globe, Duke Energy is reminding Florida customers of available tips, tools and assistance programs to help them prepare for higher winter bills. Duke Energy Florida owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.9 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
“We understand customers are still recovering from recent economic challenges. Winter weather and higher natural gas prices could create additional hardships on our customers,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida president. “The increase in fuel prices is set by the market and passed through to customers with no markup. We want to highlight steps to help customers manage their energy usage and lower bills.”
Duke Energy Florida offers free Home Energy Checks to help customers identify how they can reduce their electric use and save money. Through this service, which can be performed online, over the phone or in person, the company’s energy advisors provide energy-saving recommendations and determine customers’ eligibility for company rebates toward energy-efficient improvements.
In addition, Duke Energy Florida recommends that customers take several steps to begin saving energy and money immediately.
- Learn how to reduce energy use. The first step to reduce energy use in your home is to identify and prioritize energy-saving improvements. This can be accomplished through a certified auditor or by performing your own energy audit.You may save as much as 3% on your energy bill for each degree you lower your thermostat.
- Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy.
- Have HVAC system checked regularly by a qualified heating and air conditioning contractor to maintain efficiency and peak performance.
- Seal air ducts. Make sure the air ducts from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner are properly sealed. Ducts that leak into the attic or crawl space can substantially increase your heating and cooling bills.
- Seal your home. One of the quickest energy-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weatherstrip all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. This can save 10% to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.
- Install smart thermostats. Install a “smart” or programmable thermostat to reduce your energy use while you are asleep or away.
- Manage water heating. Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or consider installing an on-demand or tankless water heater that only heats water when you need it.
- Consider insulation. Consider whether you need to add insulation to your ceiling, floors and walls. Insulation between the indoors and outdoors reduces energy demand, saving you money while improving the comfort of your home.
- Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.
- Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun to warm the house. Close them at night to help insulate your home.
Here are some of the Duke Energy programs that could help you manage your monthly bills:
Duke Energy’s Budget Billing option lets customers pay one predictable amount every month to better manage their budget. The amount is periodically reviewed and adjusted.
Pick Your Due Date
With Pick Your Due Date, customers can choose the date they want their Duke Energy bill to be due each month. Pick Your Due Date can give customers even more control over their energy bills.
Track, manage your energy usage
Energy use can spike during the winter since heating is one of the biggest energy users in your home. Customers can easily track and adjust their usage when temperatures are highest.
- Smart meters provide customers with daily and hourly usage information to help them better understand their energy use and take steps to save energy and money.
- Duke Energy customers with smart meters also receive usage alerts through email and/or text halfway through their billing cycle, well before their bill arrives, with their current usage amount and a projection of what their final monthly bill could be.
- Customers can also set budget alerts, so they know when their bill reaches a specific dollar amount of their choosing, allowing them to adjust their usage and help save money on their bill.
Other energy-saving programs, tips and guidance to help you manage higher energy bills that can result from increased energy are available at Duke-Energy.com/Winter.
Duke Energy is reaching out to customers who are past due through email and/or text with information about utility assistance administered by agencies in their local communities.
This income-based program allows those earning below certain thresholds to qualify for federal energy bill assistance money through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The qualifying income thresholds are based on factors that include household income and the number of people living in a home.
Homeowner Assistance Fund
The Homeowner Assistance Fund is a new federal program established for homeowners experiencing a financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020, as a result of COVID-19. Funds will help prevent homeowner mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures and loss of utility service. Homeowners with an income equal to or less than 150% of the area median (average) income may be eligible. Learn more: Homeowner Assistance Fund.
Assistance agency funds
Some customers may also qualify for assistance from various government and nonprofit programs for utility bills and other household expenses. 211.org is a free service to help customers find local community agencies that can help meet a wide range of needs, including utility bills, housing, food and other essentials, child and elder care, medical expenses and health counseling.
Installment plans give customers more flexibility to pay a past-due balance over a longer period. Customers can request a few extra days or restructure the past-due balance into a monthly payment plan. Customers should contact Duke Energy to discuss options available to them.