Ease the sting of sizzling summer bills with tips from Duke Energy Florida

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  • Spending more time at home increases customer energy use.

  • Enroll in online services to get alerts to help manage usage.

  • Reduce consumption with easy energy-saving tips.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – When the temperatures soar, customer energy consumption does, too, often leading to seasonally higher bills. Throw in stay-at-home orders, homeschooling and working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Duke Energy Florida customers likely will see bills this summer higher than the usual seasonal spikes they’re used to.

"Extreme temperatures during Florida summers already drive higher energy use because our air conditioning systems are the biggest energy users in the home,” said Catherine Stempien, state president of Duke Energy Florida. “With COVID-19, customers are spending more time at home and using more energy not only to cool their homes, but also to power their electronics, lights and appliances. Higher usage does mean higher bills. We encourage any customer with billing concerns to contact us. We can help.”

Avoid billing surprises

Duke Energy Florida offers tools to help customers put the chill on their energy bill and avoid usage surprises when summer temperatures climb. High bill alerts are one option. Customers must have a 12-month service history and enroll in online services. Customers will then automatically receive an email when their next bill is predicted to be $30 and 30% more than the previous bill, based on past usage and weather.

More than 1 million Duke Energy Florida customers now have smart meters that give them even more control over their energy use and bills. Smart meters allow customers to track their energy usage daily and look for patterns. Usage alerts are sent midcycle and are based on weather and actual usage. Usage alerts show customers how much energy they’ve used and what they’ve spent, and they provide an estimated bill for the month.

Another way to avoid billing surprises is to track and modify usage. Billing alerts give customers the opportunity to act and adjust their usage before their bill arrives. Customers are encouraged to check the number of days in the billing cycle. Most bills are for 30 days but there are times it could be longer, which can increase bills. Customers can access Duke Energy’s online savings calculators to explore how they can reduce their home energy use to better manage their summer bills. There are also efficiency steps customers can take to save energy and protect their budget every day.

Energy-saving tips

  1. Grill outdoors to keep the heat out of the kitchen and your home.
  2. Use ceiling fans and set them to rotate counterclockwise. Fans allow users to set AC thermostats higher and reduce energy use. But remember: Fans cool people, not the room, so turn them off when leaving the room.
  3. Keep blinds, curtains and shades closed during the hottest part of the day, and consider installing reflective film, especially on windows facing south and west. This keeps some of the heat out and keeps the AC from running constantly.
  4. Set the thermostat to a comfortable level. Duke Energy recommends 78 degrees when you're home and 80 degrees while away.
  5. Have your air conditioning system serviced and change the air filter each month or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Date the filter or set a reminder to help keep track of when it's time for a new one.
  6. Make sure registers are unblocked and well-sealed from leaks where they meet the floors, walls and ceilings. And give them a good dusting to help improve airflow. 
  7. Install attic insulation rated R-30 and seal attic leaks. This will reduce high home cooling costs and could qualify for bill credits through Duke’s EnergyWise program.
  8. Identify energy vampires and set electronics to automatically switch to sleep mode or manually turn off computers and TVs when not in use. A power strip makes switching them off easy.
  9. Unplug phones or other electronic devices once fully charged. Many chargers use energy even when they aren’t connected to a device.
  10. Replace old lightbulbs with energy-saving LEDs. And turn off lights when not in use.

Customer assistance 

Customers experiencing challenges paying their bills should contact Duke Energy’s customer service, where specialists are available Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to assist customers with customized payment plans. Some options include Budget Billing to spread energy costs throughout the year to manage usage and the Energy Neighbor Fund to help eligible customers cover home energy bills.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.8 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center features news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos, and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination is an online destination for stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. It also offers glimpses into the past and insights into the future of energy. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Allison Barker