Customers facing high power bills after cold snap. How to monitor and budget power use.

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ABC3340 spoke with an Alabama Power representative about customers facing a hardship covering the latest power bills which showed a dramatic jump for many people. Some customers report bills hundreds of dollars higher than they usually see this time of year.

Spokesperson Issac Pigott says the increases were due to an extended cold period during the last billing cycle. There was a span of 72 to 80 hours where temperatures did not go above freezing according to Pigott.

Customers can find information on paying bills and monitoring power usage on Alabama Power's website.

*If you need an extension on paying your bill go online and set up a payment arrangement.

*To level out spikes in power bills you can sign up for budget billing. That way you will know in advance what your bill will be each month.

*You can monitor your daily power usage under My Power Usage. You can set up alerts to let you know if your usage is above a certain level. The section also gives you a projected dollar amount for your next power bill.

*There is a section where you can do a personalized energy check up for your home.

*Customers can find energy saving tips. For example, proper insulation in the attic can save 30% on your power bill. You can buy a programmable thermostat to help save on power use while you're away at work to save an estimated 10% on your bill. Less expensive models cost under $100 and are relatively easy to install.

Some power companies across the country have cut rates recently following the federal tax cuts. We asked Alabama Power about cutting its rates and received this response:

"Alabama Power is currently reviewing the impact of the new federal tax law, and will work with its state regulators to make sure that benefits are passed on to our customers in an appropriate manner. "

The Alabama Public Service Commission which regulates utilities meets Tuesday, Feb. 6, in Montgomery.

Earlier this week, Spire Energy which was formerly Alagasco, announced a rate cut of 3% beginning in February.

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