How Winter Impacts Utility Bills: Smart Ways to Save Money

By Marisol Beas | California Black Media
MarleneIt is time to say goodbye to summer and welcome autumn, and soon winter will be upon us. It will be time to decorate for the holidays, enjoy family gatherings and stay inside to keep warm. Also, with all the holiday traditions and cold weather, higher gas and electric bills are to be expected. However, even with the colder weather and additional energy usage, there are many ways to help keep energy costs down.
The Winter Fuels Outlook projects that expenditures on energy are expected to be higher because of colder weather this year. This could mean higher bill costs for households, and as found in the Residential Consumption Survey (RECS) one in three U.S. households face challenges in paying their energy utility bills. Pacific Gas &
Electric (PG&E) offers many programs like CARE, FERA, ESA and REACH to assist customers with their energy bills.
Marlene Murphy-Roach, director of the Income Qualified Programs at PG&E, said, "as a service provider, we want to ensure that we have the right programs to address the unique needs of disadvantaged communities as well as the lower income or the limited income customer segment."
PG&E has programs to help like CARE which provides up to a 20 percent discount on utility bills for lower income households. Even for customers "who are earning a little bit more than the income qualifications for CARE", can apply to another program, FERA. Murphy-Roach said that families of three or more could be approved for a discount of 12 percent on their utility bill through the FERA program.
FERA users will soon be able to gain an 18 percent discount on their electric usage due to new legislation which recently passed. Murphy-Roach said there are 1.4 million PG&E customers utilizing the CARE program, which represents approximately 89.5 percent of customers who qualify for the program.