Low temps mean high bills concerning neighbors in Columbus County


COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Temperatures barely made it above freezing the last several days. They stayed low, but for many, heat bills went up.

Neighbors in Columbus County told WWAY they are now worried about the costs they’re seeing.

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“Last year, I didn’t spend nothing like this here, nothing,” Gracie Young said.

Neighbors think while trying to stay warm, they got burned.

“We had one day where we burnt $28, and I said there’s no way,” Benjamin Brown said.

Brown and his stepsister Young have heard from dozens of neighbors with the same stories. It’s not like they did not take precautions before the cold came.

“I covered my air conditioned units,” Young said.

Young claims the house is more insulated than ones she’s lived in before. Still, turning on the heat is costing her roughly $20 a day.

“They’re hurting, and we understand that, but what we’ve got to do is look for this warmer weather that we’re going to see this week, and then watch that usage drop off tremendously,” said Brunswick Electric Membership Cooperative Customer Service Manager Jimmy Greene.

The severe cold the Cape Fear saw was below normal, but it’s not uncommon for heat bills to catch people cold if alternate heat has to be used.

“You’re going to see it jump more in the winter time because of the auxiliary heat strips than what you would in the summer time when it goes from 70 degrees to 100 degrees, because you’ve got that extra electric capacity that’s coming on with the resistant heat strips,” said Justin Fulford with Fulford Heating and Cooling.

Fulford said his usage increased six fold once freezing temps got here and stuck around.

People like Young, though, prepay what they think they’ll use from Brunswick Electric, and now she’s already over that amount.

“When my lights are going to wind up costing me more than my rent is, that’s too much,” Young said.

BEMC said its rates have not changed in years.

Young has applied for energy assistance with social services, and she said they will help her with $200, but she’ll have to wait a month before that comes.