If you haven’t noticed, those are the bills that are coming in now. For many of us, the grand total might be a little higher than average.

Today, News 19 met with SCE&G representatives to learn why.

“The real reason for higher bills is the extreme cold weather we’ve seen over the last month or so,” said Ginny Jones, Spokeswoman for SCE&G.

So far this year, we’ve had 19 days of freezing temperatures in the Midlands.

The cold stuck around, meaning you’re paying higher than average for your bills for this time of year – but it’s not an all-time high.

“Even some customers are asking us, ‘Are rates going up?'” said Jones. “Electric residential rates are actually a little lower than they were at this time last year.”

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are using more energy because of the extreme cold.

SCE&G representatives recommend small changes to save you money.

“Keep your temperature around 68 degrees if you can, turn it down when you leave and then when you get back just turn it up degree by degree,” said Jones.

Many South Carolinians use heat pumps to warm up, but when temperatures are well below freezing, the pumps could cost you even more.

“They work well in our kind of climate, but when it gets really cold, if you try to increase your heat, crank it up really fast, it will activate the auxiliary heat strips which can really use a lot of energy and make your bill go up pretty high,” said Jones.

SCE&G’s website has a section called “My Energy Use”. On this page, you can track the amount of energy your home is using and how that affects your bill.

If you have questions about your energy use or payments, you can reach SCE&G representatives at 800-251-7234 or you can visit www.SCEG.com.

If you’re in need of financial assistance because of the high bills, ask about SCE&G’s customer assistance program.