Hoosiers see electric bills spike as temperatures fluctuate

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A single mother in Fishers says her electric bills have recently been outrageously expensive.

Ginger McQueen says for the last few months her monthly Duke Energy bills have been close to $300 each month; though she swears she hasn’t used that much energy.

“There has to be something wrong. I’m kind of at a hardship about what to do,” she said.

Because of the hardship, Ginger says she’s fallen behind on the payments.

“It’s horrific, not realistic at all,” she said.

Spokespersons with energy companies IPL and Duke Energy say like Ginger, their companies have received many reports of high electric bills.

“It’s important to understand how weather can affect energy usage,” IPL spokesperson Claire Dalton said.

Dalton points to fluctuating winter temperatures as a potential reason for bill inconsistencies.

She says a customer may keep their home’s thermostat at a constant temperature but the outdoor temperature will determine how hard the home has to work to maintain indoor conditions.

“If you have a thermostat that’s set to 68 degrees and its 15 degrees outside, your house would work really hard to keep your home at a comfortable 68 degrees,” she said.

Dalton says IPL did roll out a base rate increase in 2016, but added that it should only increase the average customer’s bill by less than $10.

Duke Energy Spokesperson Lew Middleton also cited weather as a cause for fluctuating bills; but he also points to the frigid month of December as a potential reason for some customer’s sticker shock.

“When you compare December 2015 to December 2016, the average residential household used 11 percent more energy than they did year over year,” he said.

Middleton says it’s also possible that some customers are simply victims of their own billing cycle. He points to the fact that not every customer’s cycle begins on the same day, so theoretically their bill could increase even if their thermostat never changed.

“So if the billing period for you happen to include some of the coldest days in that 30 day period, then your bill is going to reflect that,” he said.

Both Middleton and Dalton say customers should pay close attention to their specific bills so they can monitor how much kilowatts of energy they use each cycle.

Both IPL and Duke Energy feature programs that can help Hoosiers become more energy efficient. Dalton and Middleton suggest customers contact company representatives with any questions regarding their bills and any discrepancies they find.

Click here for more on IPL’s program.

Click here for more on Duke Energy’s program.