Utilities, customers battling old man winter
By Joyce Morse
The bitter cold that much of the country has been experiencing has many consequences, not the least of which is high utility bills for customers.
Anyone on a budget who has limited resources may find them stretched to the limit with the severe drop in temperatures. However, utility companies and customers alike are working to make staying warm affordable.
With the recent severe storms that have swept across the east, many utility companies are working overtime to restore power as quickly as possible to customers.
Numerous companies have begun using a high volume call answering system to handle the mass amount of callers who are affected by the storm.
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In addition, they have used outbound notification systems to keep customers informed. These systems alert customers to boil water orders, missing persons, evacuation warnings, and other important storm information.
The inbound call answering system not only handles the incoming calls but collects data to help assess the outage and speed up utility restoration.
With new technology, many companies can fix the issues faster so that customers can be back in their homes sooner.
Reducing Heating Bills
With the extreme cold temperatures, many customers are looking for ways to reduce their heating costs. In fact, when monthly utility bills rise in the winter, it can come down to which bills to pay.
It's not uncommon for customers to pay hundreds of dollars more in the winter on utilities than what they pay during warm weather.
Contrary to popular opinion, utility companies are not out to "get the customer." In fact, some companies make it easy to see your usage online. Others offer tips to help you reduce the cost of utilities in the winter.
Some of the best and easiest ways to cut heating costs include the following:
• Sealing windows and doors and plugging air leaks around the home
• Switching from regular light bulbs to LEDs
• Getting an energy audit to discover leaks and safety hazards - some utility companies offer them for free
While it is more expensive initially, many customers are also switching to alternative heating.
Solar power is one option and installing geothermal pumps is another. While it may be costly for startup, it can result in savings over time to make up for the initial expense.
Other suggestions that can help customers to reduce heating costs include closing off unused rooms and using electric blankets at night. They can also install programmable thermostats that can be turned down during the day and at night and turned up during the hours when the homeowner is at home and awake.
Small changes like these can reduce the cost of heating while still allowing homeowners to stay warm during the cold months.
With the record lows that have been experienced in the last few weeks, many utility companies and customers are working to ensure that everyone stays warm at an affordable cost.
About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and Peter Briger, CEO.
Photo credit: rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.