Jul. 19—Energy rates are set to double statewide starting next month.
However, there are simple, cost-effective ways to reduce your energy usage and save money.
As a result of the rate hikes, customers in the Granite State can expect an approximately 50 percent jump in their monthly electrical bills, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reported last month.
The increases are due, in large part, to heightened demand and rising natural gas prices driven by the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to an article by N.H. Bulletin.
Effective Aug. 1, the rate for Liberty Utilities residential customers will climb to 22.23 cents per kilowatt hour, doubling from the current 11.1 cents per kilowatt hour. This new rate will be effective through January 2023.
A customer using 650 kWh will go from paying $155 to about $227 per month, according to the PUC's order authorizing the rate change.
The PUC approved a similar rate increase for Eversource on June 23. Also effective Aug. 1, Eversource residential customers will see an increase from 10.7 cents to 22.6 cents per kilowatt hour, according to Eversource spokesman William Hinkle.
Eversource — the state's largest energy provider — served over 500,000 customers across more than 200 New Hampshire towns and cities as of March. About 452,000 of them were residential, Hinkle said.
What can customers do?
There are many easy ways Granite Staters can reduce their monthly bills:
When using air-conditioning systems, set the temperature as high as possible while still maintaining comfort — for each degree higher on the thermostat, one to three percent less electricity will be used, Hinkle said. This will help reduce energy usage without turning the system off entirely.
Keep vents and other sources of air flow free from obstruction by items such as furniture, curtains and rugs.
Ceiling fans use just 10 percent of the energy of an air conditioner — if a ceiling fan is available, set it to rotate counterclockwise and at a high speed. Doing so will pull cool air from the ground and circulate it more effectively throughout the room, Hinkle said. A clockwise rotation, on the other hand, will bring warm air down from the ceiling, therefore using more energy to cool down the room.
Use a lid when boiling water in a pot or saucepan — the water will boil faster, requiring less energy, according to Unitil, a utilities company serving New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.
Turn off all lights, appliances, etc., when not in use, Liberty Utilities recommends. Make sure to turn lights off when leaving a room.
Washing clothes with cold water can also reduce energy usage, by eliminating the energy needed for the machine to heat the water. Also, since cold water prevents color bleeding, this allows you to do fewer loads by skipping the need to sort clothing by color.
Air-drying clothes, either outdoors on a clothesline or inside on a rack, reduces the heat produced from dryers, according to Eversource.
Regularly clean and/or change out furnace and air-conditioning filters to maximize efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends doing so every month or two for maximum efficiency.
Keep heat outside the home by cooking and grilling outdoors, if possible.
LED lightbulbs consume approximately 90 percent less energy and last longer than other bulbs, according to Unitil. Although it can be costly upfront, switching to LED lighting — especially bulbs with the Energy Star logo — can reduce household energy usage. One LED lightbulb can save between $30 and $80 on an energy bill over its lifespan, Unitil's website states.
Closing curtains and blinds when outside temperatures get too hot can reduce indoor temperatures up to 20 degrees, according to Eversource.
Energy can also be conserved by using major appliances, such as washers and dryers, during the cooler parts of the day — the early morning or late in the evening — when there is less demand on the electric system.
Eversource's residential rate increase is specific to the company's electric supply charge, Hinkle said. All other charges included in an Eversource bill, like delivery, will also see a change, but the major impact falls under the supply.
Customers have the option of switching to a cheaper energy provider for the supply, while still paying the remaining portion of their bill to Eversource or another utilities company, Hinkle said.
Eversource recommends conducting research before choosing an alternative supplier, to help protect yourself from any scams.
For questions about third-party energy suppliers, call the N.H. Public Utilities Commission at 1-800-852-3793 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The PUC also has suggestions on its website about switching to a different energy provider.
Eversource: Eversource encourages customers to reach out about energy solutions unique to their individual circumstances. The company offers several payment plans and discount rates for customers who need assistance.
More information about this can be found at eversource.com/billhelp, or customers can call Eversource at 844-273-7760.
Liberty Utilities: Liberty Utilities, through its Budget Billing program, allows customers to spread payments throughout the year. The payment plan is calculated based on the previous 12-month usage history, according to Liberty Utilities' website.
For more information, call 1-800-833-4200 to be put in contact with a Liberty Utilities customer service representative.
Statewide: The state of New Hampshire is also providing relief — Gov. Chris Sununu announced a $100 million emergency relief program last month to assist customers amid rising electrical costs.
The program includes $7.5 million of direct assistance to families of low income, a $100 credit to roughly 600,000 residential electric bills throughout the state, and funds allocated to the Electric Assistance Program — which provides eligible customers with discounts on their electrical bills.
The $100 credit, which would come from state surplus funds, is pending approval from the N.H. Legislature.
Also, the Electric Assistance Program offers discounts on monthly bills, ranging from eight percent to 76 percent, according to Liberty Utilities' website. Applications for Cheshire and Sullivan County residents can be made through Southwestern Community Services.
More information about the program can be found on the N.H. Department of Energy's website.
Caitlin Howard can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1441, or email@example.com.