Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is relaxing the requirements of its deferred payment plan (DEFB) starting Monday (Jan. 27) until Feb 28.
Driving the policy adjustment is the likelihood that residential customers will have higher bills this winter because of colder temperatures and increased consumption.
Starting Monday, the relaxed rules lower the requirement for a deferred payment plan to bills that are $250 or more, which is down from $500 or more. Customers will be allowed to pay 25 percent of the money owed or $250, whichever is less. The payments can be made by cashier's check, money order or in cash.
If the resulting DEFB payment exceeds $500 a month, the DEFB can be set up over a longer period but not to exceed nine months, with approval, which is an increase from the limit of five months under the current policy.
"Our goal is to be as flexible as possible to help customers when they need it most," said Jerry R. Collins Jr., MLGW president and CEO.
The average residential utility bill increased about 22 percent in December 2013-January 2014 compared to the same period a year ago partly because of colder than normal temperatures. Still, MLGW total winter residential bills rank among the lowest in the nation.
To help customers cope with the colder temperatures, here are some tips:
* Set your thermostat at 68° or lower when you're home. Every degree below 68° can save four percent on your heating bills.
* Wear layered clothing and thick socks to keep warm, then set your thermostat even lower.
* At bedtime, lower your thermostat and add extra blankets.
*Lower or turn off thermostat when leaving your home for four hours or more.
*Adjust your water heater temperature to 120° or "warm." It still provides hot water and avoids scalding. You can lower it when not in use, too.
Learn more here: http://www.mlgw.com/residential/wintertips