Early February’s cold snap—and the snow that accompanied it—drove residents throughout our service area to spend more time indoors, running their heat to stay warm and engaging with electronics to stay amused. An unusual peak in City Light’s electrical load during that time reflects this fact; the week that ended on Feb. 11 was the fifth-highest average weekly load since we began keeping electronic records in 1998, and was the highest ever weekly load for a week in February. It’s safe to say that many City Light customers will see an increase in their next bill.
Multiple factors contribute to higher winter energy costs, especially as the shorter days result in longer hours inside the home. While heating continues to be the leading use of energy in the home, electronics have overtaken water heating as the second largest block of energy consumption. Large LED TVs, game consoles, space heaters and hair dryers can really add to your bi-monthly electric bill.
For instance, using a space heater costs on average of $1 a day, but that’s $60 to a bi-monthly bill. Using your hair dryer more frequently could tack on an extra $10. Even when electronics are turned off but plugged in, they may be consuming electricity.
You have the power to reduce your energy consumption and save money for the remainder of the winter. You can get information and tools to help you save energy and money—and even take a quiz on your energy knowledge—here. Or, read on to see how you can take your power back.
If You Rent Your Home
If you’re living in a rental, you’re not alone. In fact, our survey data shows us that 52 percent of our customers are renters. It also tells us that 98 percent of customers living in multifamily buildings are using electric heat.
Save money by making sure to proactively turn off lights and electronics when they aren’t in use, by replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-saving LEDs and by taking shorter showers. Play a game of Uno or read a book instead of playing Xbox. Use more energy-efficient cooking methods and stop drafts in your home by making a DIY draft-stopper.
Not which electronics are drawing the most power? Use the table below or check out a Kill-A-Watt from the Seattle Public Library to test your devices yourself.
|Electric item||kWh x rate (annual consumption)||Cost for annual consumption||Bi-Monthly Bill|
|Video Console Xbox one)||360.93 x .12||$43.32||$7.22|
|Cable Box w/ DVR||213.40 x .12||$25.61||$4.27|
|Hair Dryer||477.49 x .12||$57.30||$9.55|
|Toaster w/ slots||201 x .12||$24.12||$4.02|
|Coffee maker single cup||730 x .12||$87.60||$14.60|
|Microwave||54.31 x .12||$6.52||$1.09|
|Slow Cooker||24 x .12||$2.88||.48|
|Laptop with charger (macbook)||46 x .12||$5.52||.92|
|Printer||66 x .12||$7.92||$1.32|
|Space heater||542 x .12||$65.42||Winter months ($60)|
|Blu-ray player||18.44 x .12||$2.21||.37|
|Electric toothbrush||14.18 x .12||$1.70||.28|
|Electric blanket||288 x .12||$34.56||$5.76|
|Vacuum||298.57 x .12||$35.83||$5.97|
|Air Conditioner (stand-up)||365 x .12||$43.80||Summer ($40)|
|Popcorn maker||42 x .12||$5.04||.84|
|Television||69.74 x .12||$8.36||$1.39|
|Refrigerator||387 x .12||$46.44||$7.74|
|Dishwasher w/ electric water heat||270 x .12||$32.40||$5.40|
|Washing Machine w/ electric water heat||286 x .12||$34.32||$5.72|
|Dryer||769 x .12||$92.28||$15.38|
|Electric water heat||1906 x .12||$228.72||$38.12|
|Nintendo Wii (2006)||104.36 x. 12||$12.52||$2.08|
|iPad||7.10 x .12||.85||.14|
|iPhone||2.79 x. 12||.33||.06$|
|Oven||355 x .12||$42.6||$7.10|
|Cooktop||121.20 x .12||$14.54||$2.42|
|VCR||18.60 x .12||$2.23||.37|
If You Own Your Home
If you own your home, all of the above applies to you, but you also have other options to increase your energy conservation. You can run a DIY Energy Audit to identify where you can save electricity, or you can talk to an expert by getting in touch with one of our Energy Advisors. If you are income qualified, you can apply for free weatherization through Homewise. And for longer-term energy savings, you can always invest in new tech with an opportunity for rebates from City Light.
If You Need Assistance With Your Bill
If you are having trouble paying your City Light bill, there are three programs that might help.
Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The first program for customers that need help is the Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP offers assistance with paying bills along with budget counseling and weatherization services. Depending upon where you live, you can sign up for LIHEAP online or via phone.
City Light has instructions on how to sign up for LIHEAP here.
Utility Discount Program (UDP)
The City of Seattle also offers the Utility Discount Program (UDP) for income-qualified customers of Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. In 2016, changes to the program’s auto-enrollment were projected to double enrolled households to 28,000 by 2018. That goal has been exceeded already, but tens of thousands of households that might be eligible have yet to enroll.
Customers enrolled in UDP receive 60 percent off their City Light bills, so if you need help check to see if you meet income requirements and enroll here.
Emergency Low Income Assistance (ELIA)
City Light offers its own program for customers who have received an “Urgent” or “Shut-Off” notice on balances of $250 or more. The Emergency Low Income Assistance (ELIA) program offers up to $200 every 12 months for customers who make the minimum payment to avoid disconnection and payment arrangements for the balance.
To get more information or sign up for ELIA, call (206) 684-3688 or email SCL_InfoELIA@seattle.gov.
If You Want to Help Your Neighbors
If your finances aren’t impacted by a higher energy bill, you might be interested in giving back to your community. There is a program available for LIHEAP or ELIA participants which is funded by donations from City Light employees, customers and other supporters.
Project Share takes donations and disburses the money to those in need. In a typical year, Project Share provides assistance to about 1,000 people, and the average benefit for recipients is $250.
Project Share’s one-time emergency assistance grants can make a huge difference in the lives of your friends and neighbors. If you are financially stable, please consider making a donation here.