NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – First, it was the ice storm last month. This week, it’s the cold snap.

Dallas resident Shelley Toloquitt admitted, “Honestly, I’m freezing to death. I can’t even keep warm.”

Many North Texans turned up their thermostats — and kept them there. After mother nature’s bitter blast, residents like Bob Firth are already seeing higher heating bills.

“The month before, which would have been for November, was $338 and the bill that just came in now was $432, so it’s about $100,” Firth said. “It’ll be higher again next month.”

TXU Energy agreed that is correct – customers should expect to see higher bills next month. Even if residents and businesses kept the thermostat at 68 degrees, the outside temperature will still zap your bill.

Spokesman Juan Elizondo Jr. explained, “The fact is to go from 19 degrees to 68 degrees takes a lot more energy than say from 50 degrees to go up to that 68. That’s the reason the state, that’s the reason TXU Energy always recommend to lower the thermostat to as low as you can tolerate.”

TXU Energy says your bills also depend on just how efficient your home is. Elizondo said there are a number of influences. “The age of equipment. The age of appliances. The age of a home. All of those things are factors.”

If your bill is higher than you expected, and you can’t pay on time, TXU Energy strongly suggests calling your electricity provider before your bill is due, and try to arrange a payment schedule. Partial payment, could count as a late payment, and wind up costing you even more.

Low-income customers or those who are unemployed can call 211 to determine if they qualify for emergency assistance in paying their electric bills.

Some people, like Shelley Toloquitt, are taking it all in stride. “I’m going to worry about that next month. Right now, I want to be warm.”

Experts say there are a few simple things you can do to save energy and money.

  • Smart power strips won’t let appliances drain energy when they’re not in use — standard wall plugs do.
  • Digital timers can be used to automatically shut off lights and appliances when you don’t use them.
  • You can also wrap your water heater with an insulating blanket, but make sure it fits to your specific model. Experts say you should also lower the temperature to 120 degrees if it’s set higher.

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