MISSOURI (KFVS) - Several members of SEMO Electric Cooperative are upset about what they call a big increase in their electric bill.
One of them is Marissa Burton, a mother of a two-year-old who has been a SEMO electric member since September 2017.
During that first month, Burton said it cost $60 to heat the trailer home her family was living at in Benton, Missouri, and so she was shocked to see that she owed $350 for her January bill.
"I was like they sent me the wrong bill because I hadn't been there all month," Burton said. "We were actually moving out, so I turned the heat all the way down to the lowest we could set it. It did bite because we just paid a deposit on our new house and all these things. It was just the wrong timing for everything."
The Public Relations manager at SEMO Electric, Glen Cantrell said the main reason why bills for the month of January have jumped up is that the temperatures outside have been colder.
"We've had some very mild winters over the past few years," Cantrell said. "As a matter of fact, the closest comparable winter we can see at this point is 2014."
According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature in Cape Girardeau for January 2018 has been three degrees below the 30-degree average.
Cantrell said that basic science shows that it takes more energy to heat a home than it does to cool it.
"So let's say inside I keep it at 68 degrees," Cantrell said. "But outside if it's 4 degrees that means your home is having to make up a 64-degree difference from inside versus outside. So if our homes are not well insulated, if we have cracks in our windows or doors, cold air is getting in somehow it affects the thermostat which will make your heating unit run more."
In hindsight, Burton wished she had canceled her electric service for that month, and said she felt crazy paying for the bill.
"There was no reason for the bill to be that high I thought," Burton said. "Because they just got a new heater. Honestly, I don't know. It's an old trailer, so maybe it doesn't have enough insulation."
For SEMO Electric members that are looking for assistance to help pay their utility bills can reach out to Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation.
Cantrell recommends that people sign up for the prepaid metering and he said over four percent of the membership has in a single year.
"It allows a member to prepay for their electrical usage," Cantrell said. "It really put the control in their hands, because they tend to watch their usage more. And then we also have the Smarthub app that allows our membership to go on their phone and monitor their usage."
Cantrell also recommends that people avoid using space heaters and instead wear extra layers indoors to stay warm.
"Every time that you plug in a space heater you are using more and more energy," Cantrell said. "Each space heater if it's plugged in all day long, 7 days a week for an entire month you're looking to $80 to $100 added on to your utility bill."