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      Winter storm could leave you with a high electric bill

      Power company officials say you can expect to see a higher electric bill for the month of January because of the winter storm.

      They say rates didn't go up, but when temperatures drop heating systems work harder and operate longer.

      Officials say about 52% of your energy bill is from heating and cooling.

      "They might live day in and day out the same way. Take the same amount of showers, cook the same, but because of the extreme cold temperatures the heating system works more. It sees cold temperature and tries to compensate for that. It heats more and does for a longer period of time," said John Powers, VP Marlboro Electric.

      A higher electric bill is not what many residents say they need right now. They say they're already paid an expensive bill in December.

      "My light bill is already extremely high. And the concern is how I'm going to pay it next month," said Maurice Gardner.

      People are looking to energy assistance agencies, like the Pee Dee Community Action Agency, for help in paying their power bills.

      "Most people come in and their lights are about to be cut off, or are already off. You're talking about people on a fixed income who really can't afford this bill," explained Queen McCall, Pee Dee Community Action Agency.

      The agency has about $2 million this year to help people pay their electric bills.

      McCall says they're funded quarterly and the money is going fast due to the higher power bills.

      "The need is there and people are coming in. There's just not enough funds to help everyone," said McCall.

      Power company officials advise you to conserve energy. They say it will turn into a huge savings on your power bills.

      Powers said, "Increase energy saving tips Reduce thermostats, lower thermostat, put on more layers of clothing."

      Power companies send out materials to customers every year with energy saving tips.

      You can also ask you power company if it has a way for you to check your energy usage online to give you a better idea of just how much energy you're using a day.