Because of the unusually cold weather, Gulf Power Company customers are using much more electricity than usual. Customer demand will continue to rise as freezing temperatures are expected again early next week.
“During these extreme cold spells, there is a significant difference between the outside temperature and the inside temperature,” said Jeff Rogers, Corporate Communications manager. “There’s much more of a difference than in the summer. Heaters are having to work harder and longer so customers are buying more electricity than usual.”
Customers can check their power usage on MyGulfPower.com by logging into their account. Customers can create an account online or call the Customer Care Center and a representative will help.
Help is available for customers who may have difficulty paying their bills. Gulf Power customer service representatives are available 24 hours/7 days per week to discuss payment and billing options with customers. To speak with a representative, customers can call 1-800-225-5797 or visit our website at MyGulfPower.com for information about the programs or to make payment arrangements.
Some of the billing or payment programs include:
Gulf Power participates with the Salvation Army in Project Share, a program that provides emergency assistance to those who need help with energy bills. Project Share and other non-profit programs assist the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and others experiencing financial hardship. Eligible customers can apply for Project SHARE assistance at The Salvation Army office in their county. Eligibility requirements for Project SHARE recipients are set by The Salvation Army.
In the Escambia County area, call (850) 432-1501
In the Okaloosa County area, call (850) 243-4531
In the Bay County area, call (850) 769-5259
Gulf Power offers a bill payment option called Budget Billing. Budget Billing can “levelize” monthly payments so customers can know approximately how much their bill will be each month and avoid high cost fluctuations caused by increased energy purchases during very cold or hot periods.
Gulf Power Company has many programs that help customers save money on their energy bills, make their homes more energy efficient or help them get direct assistance.
Things you can do to prepare your home for winter
* Heating your house can make up as much as half of your electricity bill so direct most of your attention to your thermostat. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. For every degree above 68 you add 10 percent to your heating costs. Programmable thermostats are a good investment, or you can take advantage of Gulf Power’s Energy Select. Energy Select is Gulf Power’s advanced energy management program that offers a lower price for electricity 87 percent of the time.
* An electric blanket is more economical than heating the entire house all night long.
* Open shades, drapes and blinds during the winter so sunlight can enter the house and help to warm the home naturally. At night, close shades, drapes and blinds to help retain heat.
* Operate your ceiling fan on low speed and switch to reverse to push hot air from the ceiling level to the occupied-lower areas of the room. Use fans only when the room is occupied.
* Use a portable electric heater to heat only a small area. Purchase models that are thermostatically controlled. Keep it at least three feet from items that could catch fire like curtains or furniture. Make sure you have working smoke detectors on every floor and in every sleeping room of your house.
* Make sure vents and return-air registers are not blocked by furniture, draperies, doors or other obstacles.
* Don’t use your oven to heat your home — it’s very costly and most importantly, it’s very dangerous.
Heating and cooling equipment
* If your heating system is an older, less-efficient unit, upgrade to a geothermal heating and cooling system — or a high efficiency air-source heat pump. Talk to a Gulf Power representative for a free Energy Checkup: 1-877-655-4001.
* A complete tune-up of the home heating system can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 or more, but this is a worthwhile investment and can reduce your heating bill from 3 to 10 percent. Remember to replace your filter every month. Talk to a Gulf Power representative: 1-877-655-4001.
* Duct leakage can account for 20 percent of your heating and cooling cost. Getting ducts sealed should be at the top of the list for making your home energy efficient.
Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective energy saving measures.
Weather-stripping and caulking
Weather-strip door jambs and caulk any cracks around windows to prevent cool air from entering your home.
If you have a window air conditioning unit, remove it for the winter months to prevent heat from escaping through and around the unit. If it can't be moved, put a cover over it to prevent drafts.
Use a humidifier to keep your home more comfortable. Adding moisture allows you to reduce the thermostat setting without feeling colder.
Customers can get a free Energy Checkup online or at your home with an appointment. Gulf Power energy experts will analyze your house and electricity use, and look for ways to make the house more energy efficient. Just go to MyGulfPower.com or call 1-877-655-4001.