'It is what it is': Raleigh woman says utility bills are too high

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Several years ago, Paulette Blakey lived in Raleigh's Glenwood Tower on Glenwood South. Then one afternoon, her building caught fire and she was forced out of her unit after it sustained severe damage. She was then moved to a hotel near the Beltline for a while until things improved and she found another place to stay.

"I love my place," Blakey said in an interview inside her apartment.

What Blakey is not at all excited about is living on the bottom floor of her complex and what it does to the cost of her utilities.

"I live on concrete and keeping this (apartment) warm ...I'm living in the bottom apartment. So my heat rises," she said. "I'm heating everyone's apartment upstairs. So it's difficult. And with the prices the way they are ... my heat has almost doubled."

Blakey said she doesn't even look at her bill anymore. She contacts customer service agents and pays the bill; sometimes in increments.

"It is what it is," she said. "I used to think that if everyone just stopped one whole day, buying gas or whatever, if the gas companies really felt it, prices would go down. But would they," she asked. "It's very challenging. And that's why I say sometimes it's like, I might pay half this time and maybe a little bit that next time. And I think that's why sometimes you feel like you're behind, but you try to keep up with it."

Dominion Energy representative, Persida Montanez, said residents can save money on their bills by adjusting their thermostats. Reducing the daytime temperature by 7-10 degrees can have a substantial impact on your monthly bill. In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, heating your home uses the most energy and accounts for nearly a third of the utility each month.

Additionally, residents can install energy-efficient lighting, unplug items that aren't in use, and reduce the thermostat, even more, when traveling.

"The closer you can get to 68 degrees," Montanez said, "that will maximize your savings. We encourage customers to reach out to us and let us know they are struggling, and we will find help and support through a number of opportunities from across the state."

The Salvation Army and Legal Aid NC offer utility assistance to those who qualify.

"I don't think that my bills have gotten so far out of control that I can't try to keep up with them," said Blakey. "I would like someone that may need it more than I do to have it before I use it."

The link to assistance programs for Dominion Energy NC customers is dominionenergync.com/assistance. For more ways to save money on your bill, visit the US Department of Energy here: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/06/f2/energy_savers.pdf
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