PINE BELT (WDAM) - You can't control the weather, but some customers in the Pine Belt have mother nature to blame for an increase in their power bill.
After we received several emails and messages complaining about the high costs, we asked on Facebook what customers were experiencing. We received comments of bills that had doubled or even tripled for Mississippi Power, Southern Pine Electric, Dixie Electric Power Association and Pearl River Valley Electric members.
"The message is that we want to stress, we have not changed our rates," said Jason Siegfried, CEO of Southern Pine Electric. "The cost of electricity has been the same for our members for several years now, the climate has been very non-typical for Mississippi."
It's the freezing temperatures the Pine Belt experienced in the last month that have caused those bills to get bigger. Believe it or not, your unit may have used much more energy than you thought.
"We've gotten messages from our members on social media, through phone calls, because yes they are seeing their bills higher," said Lydia Walters with Dixie Electric Power Association. "It uses more electricity, we see bills higher when we see extreme cold or extreme heat, because it has to work harder to meet those comfortable temperatures."
Another thing to think about is any space heaters or units you also have plugged in. Walters said one single space heater could add an extra four dollars a day onto your bill. If you use multiple space heaters for several days, that could be a significant impact on your account.
"It's a huge misconception is because they are small, they don't use much, they use a considerable amount of electro-power," Walters said.
You also can't compare your bill to your neighbors or friends, with many factors impacting your power at home.
"There is a lot of reasons there are differences in power bills. It could be the age of your home, the age of your heating and cooling system, it can be the number of individuals who live in that home," said Walters. "There are hundred endless things to why there are differences in power bills."
Several power companies offer budget billing, a service where the company takes your total usage for the year and then divides it per month. While it's not a discount service, it can lower the shock when the bill comes following peak months.
"Don't wait, don't wait until the bill is delinquent," Siegfried said. "When you get the bill and you are alarmed and see how high it is, call our office, talk with a member service representative and ask how we can help them make payment arrangements to ease the sticker shock that they weren't expecting."
Power companies that offer budget, or levelized, billing:
There are simple things you can do at home to help conserve energy, including settings for your refrigerator, lighting and even keeping your windows locked when heating or cooling. For 101 Easy Ways to Save Energy and Money, click here.