Energy Bills Skyrocket Across Central Texas - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Energy Bills Skyrocket Across Central Texas

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KILLEEN, TX -

(KCEN) – Martha Villages' heart dropped when she tore open her electricity bill.

"My eyes popped out, and I was like oh no … I'm going to need help with this one for sure," she said. "It was unbelievable, and almost close to a house payment."

Panic ran through Martha as she stared at the $400 bill. "I have my two older children and my husband here, and we just talked about it and said we have to stick together and make it work," Martha said.

It was a shocking moment many families across central Texas experienced this month as they opened their bills, some seeing double or even triple the charges compared to their last bill.

"This year we've had record high usage and earlier usage than normal in December and now in January," TXU Energy Spokesperson Lauren Little said. "So I think it caught a lot of people off guard as far as the adjustments they needed to make to prepare their homes or apartments."

Whether you use electric or gas, Little says two things are driving up costs: high energy consumption because of the harsh temperatures, and delivery costs going up as the companies deliver more power to customers using more energy.

But it's never too late to start weatherizing your home. If you can afford it, installing double pained insulated windows can help cut back bills tremendously.

"It cut our bills pretty much in half," Myra McQueen said. She made the investment three years ago to replace about 15 windows and install a new air unit. "I believe if we didn't have the new system and windows then our bill would have been easily over $400 this month," Myra said.

For those who can't afford such a large investment, other tricks can lower your bill. Little says keeping your thermostat at 70 degrees or even a few degrees lower through the day and night can help save about 5% in energy costs.

If you're leaving the house, you can drop the thermostat even lower, but don't cut it off completely. The unit will have to work harder and use more energy trying to cycle back to the desired temperature.

Closing vents in occupied rooms can also cut down costs, and homeowners should reverse their ceiling fans. This will blow heat down into the home.

If your bill is too high, and you can't afford the payments there is help out there. Many companies like TXU, Atmos, Bounce and others offer payment plans, average monthly billing to get rid of the peaks and valleys in your bills, and energy assistance programs.

If you take a look at the bottom of your bills, many companies provide an area where customers can add a donation to their bill amount. That money is then distributed to local organization that families can apply for.

Atmos customers can apply for help at the Bell County Human Services, Caritas of Waco, EOAC of Waco, and the Hill Country Community Action centers in Temple, Belton and Killeen.

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