POSTED: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 10:31pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 11:56am
TYLER — Deb Fletcher and Mike Dickson live near Tyler pounds airport in Smith County.
Their neighborhood just received brand new Oncor Smart Meters last month.
And they've noticed a change in their TXU Energy bills.
"All the neighbors are experiencing the same thing. You know, between $80 and $160 higher than last month," Dickson said.
Their bill went from $112 in December to $189 in January after the Smart Meter was installed.
That's when Deb took a closer look at her bill.
"And our usage had more than doubled. From December and November. Because they were almost the same those two months. And I went back to the last year, when it was actually colder and it's even higher now," Fletcher said.
Deb's Dad Lonnie Fletcher lives right next door.
A Smart Meter was installed on his house and his barn -- he says both of the bills went up -- but mainly his house.
"Last month it was $155, this month it went to $322" Fletcher said.
And he says, they're pretty efficient.
"No kids, nothin', just me and my wife, keep the thermostat down, 65 degrees at night," Fletcher said.
We spoke with an Oncor representative -- she says they're eager to help anyone who has questions about the meters.
"There are a lot of factors that can affect customers bills. But advanced meters are not one of them. They've been tested and reviewed. Not just by Oncor but by an independent entity and they're found to be accurate," said Ashley Burton with Oncor.
"I have a hard time believing that they weren't accurate before...that they were just letting dollars fly out the window," Dickson said.
Oncor tells KETK, you can monitor your energy consumption on a special website, www.smartmetertexas.com  -- and if you have a specific question you can log onto www.askoncor.com  -- and they'll have someone get back with you.
We did speak with TXU who says they just bill based on the usage information that Oncor gives them -- so they have provided a pretty lengthy list of tips to save energy in the cold weather:
1. Turn your thermostat back 10%-15% for 8 hours a day and save up to 10% on your heating and cooling costs. (Heating and cooling accounts for as much as 60% of a household electricity usage)
2. Make sure the fireplace flue is closed when not in use. Don’t let your heat go up the chimney.
3. Set your ceiling fans at slow speed, with the blades angled down, to push warm air away from ceilings.
4. Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
5. Make sure your walls and attic are properly insulated. Adding insulation in the attic is one of the most cost-effective savings measures.
6. Use multiple-outlet strips so you can turn everything off with one flip of a switch. Leaving a computer on can cost about 21 cents per day, or about $75 per year.
7. Reduce your water-heating costs by simply lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater. For each 10º F reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs. Unless your water heater’s storage tank already has a high R-value of insulation (at least R-24), adding insulation can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%, saving save you around 4%–9% in water-heating costs.
8. Try to minimize number of times you open and close doors to the outside. Each time you open a door, cold air enters the house.
9. Install weather-stripping and caulking to seal air leaks and adequate insulation in walls and the attic. These are cost-effective ways you can save on your home heating bills.