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(WBIR-Knoxville) East Tennesseans are getting a reminder of colder days and paying for it.

According to Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), customers can expect to pay 30% to 50% more on their energy bills this month.

Over a week ago, East Tennessee experienced record-breaking low temperatures.

"When we have those type of temperatures, your heating system is going to work longer and harder than it normally has to in a typical winter," said Mike Allison, KUB customer service supervisor.

"The average bill is usually $150 and it's been up to like $230," said Jason Scarbrough, a Knoxville resident.

Allison recommends keeping the thermostat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit when temperatures dip into the single digits. Knoxville resident William Bohannon followed that recommendation but still ended up with an 8% to 10% increase in his recent energy bill.

Oak Ridge resident Vickie Thompson said her energy bill was approximately $100 higher than normal.

"I'm on a fixed income and everything too so it was really kind of hard for me. When I got the bill I said, 'Wow, I don't know what I'm going to do,'" Thompson said.

Thompson's friend, Tim Kirk of Oak Ridge, added, "I knew it was going to be high but I didn't think it would be that high. So you know, it's just the cold weather making it difficult."

KUB is offering assistance through its campaign, Project Help, now in its 13th year. Through donations, KUB helps families in need pay their heating bills. The campaign runs from Jan. 6 until Feb. 1.

Payment programs are also available to KUB customers.

"As soon as you get your bill, if you recognize you're going to have difficulty paying it, call us as soon as you are aware of that," Allison said.

Those who would like to help, can do so several ways:

  • Purchase a donation coupon when you shop at Food City.
  • Make a donation at any Knoxville area Home Federal Bank location.
  • Send a check to: Project Help, P.O. Box 59017, Knoxville, TN 37950
  • Check the donation box on your next KUB bill for a one time donation or monthly pledge.

According to KUB's press release, KUB collects donations, and 100% of the funds go to Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC).

The money goes directly toward the purchase of electricity, natural gas, propane, heating oil, wood or coal for those in need.

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