Utility bills expected to rise in high heat

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The temperature isn't the only thing soaring this month. So is electricity usage.

With the temperatures so high, two questions are emerging: How high will electric bills go? And, does Virginia have the power to meet all the demand?

Bruce Russell of Henrico knows exactly what to do when the mushrooms grow in his yard. But when the numbers grow on the electric meter, they're not so simple to stop.

"I think it's a concern to any consumer who uses electricity," Russell said.

The scorching hot temperatures are pushing Richmond's cooling needs up dramatically, as in 76% higher than last June, according to Dominion Virginia Power.

"There's no doubt that we're gonna be using a lot of electricity, we're gonna see demand really up today and tomorrow," said Dominion spokesperson David Botkins.

That means the average customer's bill is expected to rise. How much, is hard to say. It can depend on how energy-smart you are.

"Well right now it's set on 76, like I say, in the evening when we go to bed, just, two clicks set it to 78," said Russell, who has a programmable thermostat.

You can also close drapes, and schedule dish washing or laundry for the early morning or late evening. Doing that keeps less heat and humidity from being added to your home.

"We close all the window shades on the side of the house that's facing the sun," Russell said.

With at least one more day of triple digit highs in the forecast, keeping cool is likely to be costly. If it's any consolation, at least the power is expected to be there.

"We have every reason to believe and have every confidence that there will be plenty of electricity to meet the demand during these hot summer days," Botkins said.

Dominion adds that while cooling needs are up 76%, that doesn't mean a 76% increase in your bill. The bill will depend on a number of factors including the size, temperature, and insulation of your house.

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