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VIRGINIA POWER REMINDS CUSTOMERS: HOT WEATHER BRINGS HIGHER ELECTRIC BILLS

 RICHMOND, Va., July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Virginia Power customers are using much more electricity during what could become one of the hottest Julys on record.
 "Depending on our customers' usage patterns, their July electric bills may be higher than normal because of the increased demand during unusually hot weather this month," Robert F. Hill, senior vice president-commercial operations, said.
 To date, July temperatures have been about 5 degrees above normal in the state's most populous areas of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and greater Richmond, according to company meteorologists. From July 5 to July 15, the three regions had 11 consecutive days of temperatures of 90 degrees and above. In Richmond, the temperature was 90 degrees or above on 24 of the month's first 26 days.
 On July 9, Virginia Power customer demand climbed to an all-time peak of 13,295 megawatts as temperatures soared to 100 degrees in much of the company's service area. This exceeded the old record of 13,105 megawatts set the previous day.
 Today's forecast calls for highs in the upper 90s throughout much of Virginia, and demand is projected to peak at about 13,400 megawatts. However, a chance of isolated afternoon showers could lower demand. (Data on today's peak will not be available until tomorrow afternoon).
 "During hot weather, today's lifestyle rely heavily on electrical and electronic equipment such as air conditioners and microwave ovens," Thomas J. O'Neil, vice president-energy efficiency, said. "As smart energy consumers, we should strive to control our energy costs while maintaining comfort and convenience."
 The following tips may help customers lower their summer energy bills:
 -- Raise your air conditioning thermostat to the highest comfortable setting that your health permits. Each degree higher cuts energy use by about 3 percent.
 -- Caulk and weather-strip to stop cool air leaks around windows, doors, exhaust fans and other places where wires or pipes pass through walls.
 -- Insulate water heaters using an inexpensive insulation kit found at most home improvement stores or do it yourself with backed roll insulation and duct tape. (As a precaution, call your gas company for advice before insulating a gas water heater.)
 Virginia Power offers a program to help customers spread their energy payments evenly over the year. Under the company's Budget Billing Plan, annual energy costs are estimated and divided into equal monthly payments. After a year, budget payments are adjusted to reflect actual usage.
 The Budget Billing Plan is a free service, and you pay exactly the same over a year as with regular billing. For information, call a Virginia Power business office. The best times to call are Tuesday through Thursday, as the company's phone centers experience their heaviest volume of calls on Monday and Friday.
 The company also has a Heat Pump Customer Assistance Program that can help customers improve the efficiency of their heat pumps and get more for their energy dollars this summer. The inspection and repair assistance program will end by Aug. 31. For details, call a local Virginia Power Energy Efficiency Department.
 -0- 7/28/93
 /CONTACT: Charles H. Taylor of Virginia Power, 804-771-6115/


CO: Virginia Power ST: Virginia IN: UTI OIL SU:

DC-TW -- DC027 -- 6926 07/28/93 16:44 EDT
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Date:Jul 28, 1993
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