NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the impacts of COVID-19 are felt across Tennessee, the state’s consumer-owned electric co-ops have a simple message for those who have been impacted: We can help you.

“If you are unable to pay your bill due to the financial impacts of the pandemic, I urge you to call your electric co-op today,” says David Callis, executive vice president and general manager of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Electric co-ops are committed to keeping the lights on for all Tennesseans who have been impacted by the pandemic.”

Electric co-ops across the state are working with consumer-members to set up deferred payment schedules and find sources of additional assistance. Resources that can help pay utility bills are available for families and small businesses through the recent federal stimulus program. Co-ops are a good resource for information on LIHEAP grants for individuals and SBA loans for small businesses.

Co-ops also encourage their members to use energy wisely. As families spend more time at home, they will likely see a surge in home energy use. Here are some steps consumers can take to help control their energy bills:

  • Program your thermostat to maximize energy savings. Setting your thermostat 1 degree lower when heating or 1 degree higher when cooling can reduce energy use by up to 5 percent.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry, and use cold water. Using warm water instead of hot can cut a load’s energy use in half, and cold water will save even more.
  • Air dry dishes. This step can cut your dishwasher’s energy use by up to 50 percent.
  • Substitute LEDs for conventional lightbulbs. Lighting can amount to up to 12 percent of monthly energy use. LED bulbs can cut lighting costs by 75 percent.
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Small appliances and electronics consume energy even when not in use. When powered on, game consoles, televisions and similar electronics are responsible for up to 12 percent of energy use.

“Electric co-ops recognize the critical need for energy – especially during a crisis,” says Callis. “After food, water and medicine, reliable energy is critical to maintaining health, safety, comfort and connection. We are not going to sit on the sidelines as this crisis unfolds. Contact your local co-op, and we will help you.”

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