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Huntsville Utilities offers assistance during cold snap

During this cold snap, we can expect electricity bills to be higher than normal.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville Utilities representatives say last December they've had the most heating degree days they've seen in ten years.

Ongoing winter weather could mean higher electric bills for this month. If you're struggling to pay, let Huntsville Utilities know immediately.

You can set up an installment plan or receive assistance. Huntsville Utilities says if you cannot pay the bill, service will not be interrupted during extremely cold weather.

"When wind chill gets below 32 degrees, on any given day we do not do service interruptions for non-payments during those times," says Huntsville Utilities Community Relations Director, Joe Gehrdes.

Huntsville Utilities says to call if you need assistance. Call 256-535-1200.

Here are some "Smart Consumer Tips" to save money:

  • Zone Heat: In very cold weather, zone heating can help keep your bill low but should not be used on a consistent basis due to possible mold problems. Close the doors and vents to the rooms that you are not frequently using and heat only the most important rooms in the house. You can do this if you have gas heat or an electric furnace but do not try it with a heat pump or an air conditioner since it may cause damage to the compressor.  Also, try not to zone off the area in which the thermostat is located.
  • Open and Close Your Curtains: Open your curtains on the south side of your house during the day. The sun sinks approximately 30 degrees to the south in the winter and will provide significant heating effect during the day. Close all other curtains day and night to reduce heat loss.
  • Seal Your Windows: Check the outside edges of your windows for air gaps. If cracks exist, re-caulking is one of the most cost effective measures that you can take. Storm windows are very cost effective if applied over single pane glass, especially if a vinyl gasket is used.  If your windows are in disrepair, clear plastic can be applied as a temporary measure on the window interior to seal against air infiltration. Window seals kits using  a hair dryer to shrink the plastic until clear are available in common building supply stores.
  • Seal Your Doors: The best way to seal an exterior door is with jamb-up weather-stripping and a threshold. A towel at the bottom of the door will suffice as a temporary measure.
  • Wrap Your Water Heater: Most electric water heaters cost more to operate than natural gas but a little less than propane.  Newer water heaters may have internal foam insulation and do not need a wrap but in many cases, water heater jackets, duct wrap, or fiberglass batts can be a cost effective way to save energy.  NOTE: Be careful when insulating a gas water heater so as not to interfere with its ventilation at the top or the flame at the bottom.  Water heater jackets can be used effectively to save energy for tanks located both inside and outside the heated space.
  • Wrap Your Hot Water Pipes: Foam tubes make for very easy and effective insulation and can be purchased at most building supply stores.
  • Check Your Attic Insulation:  In most homes, one of the most significant areas of heat loss is through the ceiling.  Make sure your attic has a level blanket of insulation that completely covers the ceiling joists.  Insulation levels are measured in R-values and Huntsville Utilities recommends a minimum of R-25 and an optimum level of R-38.  Attic access openings and pull down stairs located inside the structure should also be insulated and weather-stripped.


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