With winter just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on your electric bill. While summer heat can cause higher bills and problems, many people are not able to afford their power bill, the winter months shows an increase in delinquent electric bills.
One Sevier County woman, a KUB customer, arrived home to find a turn-off notice on her meter box.
“I admit I got behind on my bill when my husband and I were out of work but since then I’ve been making monthly payments of $150 a month and my balance is only $285. I think if I’ve been making payments on my account and doing what I can be pay back my bill they shouldn’t be turning off my electricity,” stated the customer that asked not to be identified.
Knoxville Utility Board (KUB) which serves Knoxville, Blount County and most of the Seymour area (as well as four other counties) suggests calling the Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) 637-6700 which may be able to offer assistance for people having a hard time paying their bill.
“We encourage our customers to use our services and they can do that by going to our website at www.kub.org or calling 524-2911 stated KUB spokesperson Darrin Rhines.
Sevier County Electric’s coverage area includes Townsend up to Walland, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Jones Coves, Sevierville, Jones Cove, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and down Chapman Hwy. the Wye. Secretary and Treasurer Allen Robbins stated when talking about customers with past due bills, “We try to work with our customers. We read the meter which is on a 30-day cycle. That goes through and we bill it out. The customer has 20 days after the meter has been billed out to pay the bill. Once it goes past due we will read the meter again. Within 10 days of the second months billing being due they will be subject for cutoff. So you have 40 days to pay the previous month’s bill. We make a courtesy call through an automated system that will let them know that it’s subject for cutoff. Since we give so long a period for people to pay, we don’t necessarily make arrangement on a past due bill and we try not to accept partial payment.” According to Robbins what’s best is for customers to make the smaller payments up until that cutoff date. “If they can’t make their payment we refer them to agencies that can help.”
Robbins said that Sevier County Electric has a program called: Project Help Round-up where customers can round their bill to the next highest even dollar. That difference goes into the Project Help fund for customers that are having a hard time. An independent agency then acts as the facilitator. “Customers who want to help those who are struggling can help that way,” stated Robbins. “People can also just make a donation outright.” Robbins said that the next issue of their newsletter will have a card in it telling about the program. “The most they would give in a year would be $11.88 if it were round up. We’ve been doing this project since April of 2005. The account is now up to about $2000. It’s a small way for folks to help other people.”
Home costs are generally higher in the winter time than in the summer. But there are ways to save on your bill. “We have a Home-e evaluation where customers can get a report or check list that tells about their bill to see the items costs from lest to high to see where the costs are coming from.”
Other suggestions Robbins gave include closing the blinds in the summer and monitoring your thermostat, keeping it higher during the day and lower at night when you get home. “That’s good to do in the summer months,” stated Robbins. “In the winter it’s best to keep it set at a certain temperate. Also using florescent lights which give off more light and last longer instead of the old fashioned light bulbs will help.”
Robbins final suggestions: “Caulk up the cracks where air can get in. You can buy a whole case of caulking for around $15. That will help in both the summer and the winter. And be sure to change filters about every 30 days. It will help your system last longer and you’ll save some dollars.”