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Summer Cooling Cost Sticker Shock? Try Budget Billing

Budget billing can take the sticker shock out of fluctuating electricity costs for Ohio households. Credit: Achim Hering/Wikimedia
Budget billing can take the sticker shock out of fluctuating electricity costs for Ohio households. Credit: Achim Hering/Wikimedia
September 9, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After a cool start, summer is ending with a sizzle in Ohio. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Ohioans on average paid $340 for electricity this summer, the months of June through August, four percent more than in 2014.

Matt Schilling, public information officer at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), suggests that Ohioans can avoid some "sticker shock" through budget billing, which spreads out the cost of energy used during high-demand times of the year.

"Many people know you're certainly using more natural gas in the winter for heating, or maybe more electricity in the summer for cooling," Schilling explains. "So, it really helps you even out these fluctuating monthly utility bills."

Budget-billing programs are available through Ohio's natural gas and electric companies, each with varying periods and plans available.

Schilling notes such a program is different than a fixed-rate contract with a marketer. With a fixed-rate contract, the cost of the natural gas or electricity stays the same, but the bill varies by month. With budget billing, customers receive a bill for the same amount each month.

Cooling and heating costs also can be more predictable with simple conservation measures at home. Schilling recommends using energy-efficient appliances and keeping an eye on the thermostat.

"It's usually said in the winter, every one degree on your thermostat can save up to three percent on your heating bill," he says. "So, another option to help with that is to get a programmable thermostat that can automatically change the temperature when you're sleeping or when you're not at home, so you're not unnecessarily heating your home."

More energy-saving tips, and shopping information about natural gas and electricity suppliers, are online at energychoice.ohio.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH