ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With the coldest months of the year ahead of us, many Floridians may be expecting to drive up their energy bills just to stay warm, or warm for Florida standards.
But, Duke Energy says its customers can expect things to get pricier than normal. The reason, the energy company says, is because of the recent rise in fuel prices. Those costs that are impacting the company are now being passed down to customers, Duke Energy says.
"We understand customers are still recovering from recent economic challenges. Winter weather and higher natural gas prices could create additional hardships on our customers," said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida president.
"The increase in fuel prices is set by the market and passed through to customers with no markup."
Duke Energy says there are a variety of federal assistance programs that help manage bills, but there are also some tips to help save money and energy.
- Change air filters regularly: Dirty air filters make heating systems work harder, which uses more energy.
- Seal air ducts: Make sure air ducts from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner are properly sealed. Ducts that leak into the attic or crawl space can increase your heating and cooling bills.
- Seal your home: The quickest energy-saving task you can do is caulk, seal and weatherstrip all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. Duke says this can save 10 percent to 20 percent on heating and cooling bills.
- Install smart thermostats: A “smart” or programmable thermostat can reduce energy while you are asleep or away.
- Manage water heating: Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or consider installing an on-demand or tankless water heater that only heats water when you need it.
- Consider insulation: Check to see if you need to add insulation to your ceiling, floors and walls
- Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.
- Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun to warm the house. Close them at night to help insulate your home.