It may have been milder than normal, but winter weather still pushes electricity and natural gas usage up in January. PECO reports its electric sales were three percent higher than January 2007, and the company delivered six percent more natural gas than the same period a year ago.PECO said it delivered 3.44 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 12.88 billion cubic feet of natural gas last month. When compared to what's considered normal weather, PECO said electric sales were 2.4 percent below normal and natural gas was 11 percent less than normal in January. Actual bills vary widely based on a customer's household size and energy efficiency, the type of heating system, and the customer's billing cycle.

Based on data from the National Weather Service, January was eight percent colder than a year ago, but 11 percent milder than normal. There were 22 days during the month with higher than normal temperatures with the daily temperatures those days on average eight degrees warmer than normal.

Still, some local households may be struggling with their winter utility bills. PECO urges any customer who may have trouble paying their monthly bill to consider the following options:

-Enroll in budget billing to spread annual utility payments evenly throughout the year.

-Pay by credit card to pay over your own preferred period of time, or Apply for assistance grants depending on household size and income.

PECO customers can enroll in budget billing and find links for other payment options and energy saving tips at www.pecowinter.com. PECO's LIHEAP hot-line is 1-800-34-HELP-4 or 1-800-344-3574.

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