Make us your home page

January freeze to send February utility bills soaring

If you have been cranking the heat all week, and inside your home it still feels like Florida, you'll soon pay the price.

The colder it is outside, the more it costs to heat a house. And with the frigid weather expected to continue, some could see their January power costs double what they paid in December.

"In this cold weather, customers could run their heat for one week and end up with their bill being more than it is during the hottest month in summer," TECO project manager Kenneth Hernandez said Friday.

Here's why: When it's 90 degrees outside and you're cooling your home to 70, you need only enough energy to lower the temperature 20 degrees.

But when it's 30 degrees outside and you're heating your home to 70, you have to use enough energy to effect a 40-degree change in temperature.

"If the normal January temperature is 57 degrees, and now we're in the 30s, the cost to keep your home a constant 70 degrees increases 200 percent," Hernandez said.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said that for a house with 1,850 square feet of living space, where the thermostat is set at 68 degrees, it costs about $10 more per day to heat your house in 30-degree weather than it does when it's 50 degrees outside. That's $10 a day times … how many days have we been shivering now?

Another problem, Hernandez said, is that most Floridians don't have furnaces. And when the temperature stays low for long, many heat pumps can't keep up with the demand, so emergency heat kicks in. It costs almost triple — 85 cents an hour on average instead of the usual 30 cents. "And when it's really cold out at night, that backup can run for hours at a time," he said.

If you want to help cut back on consumption — and costs — the power companies offer some suggestions:

• Turn down your thermostat from 74 degrees to 70 and you'll save $65 a month. Every degree under 70 saves another 10 percent on your heating bill.

• Find a comfortable temperature and stick to it. Constantly shifting your thermostat takes extra energy. But if your house will be empty for more than two hours, be sure to turn your thermostat down to 65.

• Use portable heaters sparingly. Running a 1,500-watt heater all day costs $149 a month.

• Lower the temperature on your water heater. Going from 140 degrees to 120 degrees will save an average of $85 a year.

>>Fast facts

For more help

For more energy saving tips, or to schedule an energy check, Progress Energy customers can go to or call (877) 364-9003. For help paying your bill, go to or call (800) 700-8744.

TECO Energy customers can get more information at or

January freeze to send February utility bills soaring 01/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2010 11:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe has been taking precautions in light of the Seminole Heights killings: keeping the lights on all night and having employees walk to their cars in groups.
  3. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees


    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  4. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]