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Winter Bill Help

Higher bills after severe cold weather

The recent record-breaking cold temperatures will likely lead to higher electric bills for most customers in the coming months. SWEPCO is working to minimize that impact on customers’ bills.

Two factors can impact customers’ bills – their energy use and the cost of fuel for power plants. Customer base rates have not changed.

Energy use is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The number of kilowatt-hours a customer used during this cold snap will likely be higher than usual. Customers can compare their February 2021 usage to the same billing period a year ago with information displayed on their bill or by using the SWEPCO app.

During this record-breaking cold weather, the fuel costs to generate electricity increased substantially. SWEPCO is working with utility regulators in each state to minimize the impact of fuel costs on customers’ bills. The “fuel factor” used to calculate the power generation fuel cost on the bill is adjusted to make sure customers pay only SWEPCO’s actual fuel costs. SWEPCO is prohibited from making a profit on fuel costs.

We encourage customers who are struggling to pay electric bills to contact us so we can work together to find a solution. Visit SWEPCO.com/Assist, call 1.877.446.7211, or contact us through Facebook.com/SWEPCO or Twitter.com/SWEPCOnews.

Why is my bill higher during winter months?

During this time of year, you might see an increase in your SWEPCO bill amount, and this is often related to the drop in temperatures mixed with the holiday season. The colder it is outside, the harder a heating system has to work, and the more energy it takes to keep a home warm.

There are a lot of factors at play—from how well your home is insulated to your furnace working overtime to combat the colder weather we’ve experienced. Homes with electric heating systems can see especially large jumps.

The fuel surcharge on your bill increases proportionally to the number of kilowatt hours you use. This charge covers the cost of fuel to generate the electricity used in your home. Fuel costs are passed directly to customers with no profit to the company.

It’s normal for the number of days in each billing cycle to change from month to month. You can see the number of days in your billing cycle on the front page of your bill.

Heat pumps are very efficient in our region’s normal winter temperatures. But as outdoor temperatures fall below 30 degrees, supplemental electric heat strips turn on to maintain indoor warmth. These are still more efficient than heating a home with only electric resistance heat, but cause electric bills to go up.

This video will help you better understand your heat pump and how it works in cold temperatures:

Even if you rely on your natural gas furnace as your home’s main heat source, your electricity bill can still increase. Your natural gas furnace most likely relies on an electricity-powered blower to help move hot air through your home’s ductwork. That electricity-powered blower is operating longer and harder* to keep the same temperatures in your home when the outside temperature plummets.

*This information is meant to give you an overview of your heating source’s operation. Consult your system’s manufacturer for specific information.

Many people supplement their normal heating system with portable electric space heaters. Electricity to run just one 1,500-watt space heater can cost more than $3 a day, or $20 a week and $108 a month.

What You Can Do

Call us at 1.888.216.3523 to learn what solutions we can offer you. You may qualify for:

  • A payment plan. In cases where bill payments have fallen behind, it may make sense to consider setting up a payment arrangement. Phone representatives can describe specifics based on each situation, or you can visit swepco.com/assist to get started now.
  • Enrolling in Average Monthly Payment plan (AMP). AMP evens out payments throughout the year to account for seasonal spikes in usage. Bills adjust on a 12-month rolling average and change only slightly each month, making bills more predictable. More information is also available swepco.com/amp.
  • Being referred to an agency offers financial assistance for electric bills SWEPCO can provide eligibility guidelines, contact information and program specifics for local and state assistance organizations, and work with those organizations to verify information and accept agency assistance pledges.

Learn energy savings tips

Visit swepco.com/savings to learn energy savings tips and tricks. You’ll also find tools to help you understand what appliances in your home are using the most energy.

Learn more about the energy efficiency rebates and programs available where you live

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