Winter has its perks; students particularly enjoy snowball fights and snow days. But this year’s chilling temperatures delivered an unexpected blow to students living in University Park.
Between 70 and 80 percent of UP residents exceeded their $30 electricity allowance during the last two months. Tammy Samford, UP bookkeeper, said those residents owe an average of $60 to $80 per person. Many students owe $100 or more.
“The electric bill has been a big surprise to us, too,” Samford said. “I understand their frustrations and I sympathize with them, but there’s not really much we can do about it.”
The city of Abilene used about 20 percent more energy in the past three months than in 2009, said Gregg Blair, manager of internal affairs for AEP. Energy use among Abilene residents, though, was up 27 percent last month compared to February 2009. Blair said lower temperatures were the only reason for the increase.
University Park management attributed its increases to cold weather as well, although its residents incurred much higher overages. Haley Weldon, junior family studies major from Plano, said she and her roommate owe $160 for February and slightly less for January. Weldon’s parents pay her living expenses, but she still was concerned.
“I just didn’t feel like we used that much,” Weldon said.
Residents who cannot pay their bill in full may finance their balance throughout the next few months. UP also is delegating charges by room count instead of resident count: two students living in a four-bedroom apartment will pay only 25 percent each.
“I’m sure that if this continues, [rate] adjustments may be made. Until this point, $30 has been enough,” Samford said.
Katlyn Haney, senior business marketing major from San Antonio, said she and her roommate went $20 over, despite meticulous monitoring.
“We went to extraordinary measures to make sure we didn’t leave our heater on,” Haney said. “I think we only turned it on a couple of days out of the wholeÂ month, so I can understand how people could accumulate huge bills.”
Ben Rude, junior youth and family ministry major from Spokane, Wash., was one of the few who managed to stay within the allowance. He and his roommate did everything from unplugging power strips to purchasing energy-efficient light bulbs to avoid charges. They kept their heating and cooling system on a tight leash, which Rude said got a little chilly on occasion.
“We push it to the limit of comfort. If it’s cold, it’s going to be almost too cold,” Rude said. “To save the extra $50 or so is worth it.”