Duncan’s Digest – Go Green and Win: Paperless Billing and Bank Draft
SECO Energy is a not-for-profit electric cooperative whose purpose is to provide exceptional service to our members, co-workers and communities. We are a unique business that promotes less use of our product rather than more – we’re your partner in saving energy and money.
Throughout the cooperative, we look for ways to reduce spending and waste while providing exceptional customer service to our 210,000+ members. We are adapting as technology changes as well. Surveys show that members want convenient billing and payment options (along with low rates and reliable service). Environmentally conscious members want to reduce paper waste and enjoy leisure time instead of writing checks and driving to the post office to buy stamps. Safety-minded folks don’t want the worry over the potential lack of security of mailing a paper check that contains an account number, routing number, address and signature. Mailbox thieves and porch pirates remain a threat despite the fact that they’re captured on video doorbells every day!
Currently, over 100,000 SECO accounts are enrolled in in our online account platform called SmartHub and nearly 50,000 of those are enrolled in eBill and have opted out of paper billing statements altogether. Members can view, manage and pay their bills through SmartHub. Enrolling in bank draft is another convenient way for members to pay bills directly from their bank account. SmartHub messenger provides advanced notification of amount due and draft date.
Paperless billing, bank draft and SmartHub account enrollments are green options that save money for the cooperative, too, and help us keep rates low. Per surveys, members who receive eBill are more satisfied with the email’s promptness and prefer it over waiting for the paper bill to print and mail.
Throughout 2021, members who partner with SECO to help reduce billing costs and paper waste will be eligible for a monthly drawing. Each month, three prizes will be awarded to lucky winners drawn from those enrolled in these billing options. Prizes include a $200 bill credit, a NEST thermostat and an Amazon Echo Dot with Alexa.
There are three criteria your account must meet to qualify for the monthly incentive:
Account is registered through SmartHub
Account is opted out of paper billing statements
Account is enrolled in automatic bank draft
If you have more than one account that meets these criteria, each account is eligible to be drawn as a monthly winner.
These enrollment options are available through SmartHub. SmartHub is also available as an app on your smartphone or tablet. Members who aren’t as tech savvy or do not have a smartphone or tablet can reach out to Member Services by phone for enrollment assistance. Read more about SmartHub’s features on page 4.
We’ll publish the winners’ names in our Winners’ Circle in the upcoming SECO News editions.
SECO’s five Member Service Centers are equipped with debit/credit card processing machines for walk-in transactions. These will help us begin to phase out our existing kiosks. These third-party kiosks are under-utilized, under perform and are no longer cost effective.
All of these incentives and changes are part of keeping costs low and using technology that offers you convenience and security. Thank you for considering new options.
Advice from The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate your sweetheart all month long with these helpful ideas. Do you enjoy camping? The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends planning your honey’s camping trip on either February 6 or 7. If you like warmer weather, wait until March 5 or 6. Are you planning a trip with someone special? The best days to schedule a trip for pleasure are February 24 – 26 or March 24 and 25. Getting married? The best days ahead for a wedding are February 1 or 2 or March 1, 2, 28, or 29. Make your love happy by tackling your honey-do list. The best day to start a project is February 12 or March 14.
Less Coins; Big Change: Pennies from Heaven
Starting February 1, our Member Service Centers ask members to help make a difference in local communities. As the coin shortage continues, Service Centers are no longer stocking coins to make change on a cash bill payment. We ask members who visit a Service Center and pay in cash to donate their spare change to SECO Energy’s Pennies from Heaven program.
Less coins in your pocket will create big change in the communities we serve. Last year, an unprecedented number of members reached out to United Way and other local service agencies for help. SECO’s Pennies from Heaven program responded by providing thousands of dollars for bill payment assistance and dollars to local food banks in our area.
Why wait to visit a Member Service Center to donate your spare change? Enroll in Pennies from Heaven today, and SECO will round up your monthly billing amount to the nearest dollar (no matter how you choose to pay your bill). The average donation is small, only about $6 per year, but your small change equals big help for local families. You can enroll online or click on the homepage banner.
To all the members who are current Pennies from Heaven enrollees or who have made a one-time donation, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Our CEO Jim Duncan supports the program, as do many SECO employees.
Thank you for your generosity!
EV Charger Winner
Mary Maloney from Clermont is the January winner of a SECO Energy branded JuiceBox Pro 40 EV Level 2 charger. We’re giving one charger away each month while supplies last. To enter, text “EV” to (352) 320-4500 for a link to enter. Or click on the EV Charger Giveaway homepage banner.
Learn more about the benefits of electric vehicle ownership on our EV website pages. You’ll find an EV savings calculator, information about CO2 reduction, an EV and PHEV model finder and a nationwide charger-finder map. Visit our Electric Vehicles page for more details.
Watch SECO News for next month’s charger winner.
Account Access 24/7 with SmartHub
SmartHub is SECO Energy’s 24/7 account access and management platform. SmartHub is available as a user-friendly app for your smartphone or tablet or on your desktop computer or laptop. A SmartHub account registration is a criterion for winning the monthly incentive announced in this month’s Duncan’s Digest on page 1.
Register your SECO account with SmartHub for 24/7 access to these features:
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN: Enroll in SECO’s Pennies from Heaven program.
PREVIOUS STATEMENTS: Examine past consumption history and view previous billing statements.
NO WAITING TIME: View monthly billing statements faster (usually less than two business days) of meter reading and bill calculation.
UPDATE INFORMATION: You can change your mailing address (hi there, Snowbirds), add a new email address or update your phone number.
PAYMENT ARRANGEMENT*: Request a payment arrangement 24/7.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Click on the Facebook or Twitter icons for direct access to SECO’s social media feeds.
PAY YOUR MONTHLY BILL: SmartHub accepts debit/credit card or electronic – without the added expense of a convenience fee.
ACCESS STORMCENTER: Report outages 24/7, enroll in outage communications via email, text or voice and check the status of a current outage.
SET IT AND FORGET IT: Enroll in monthly bank draft from a checking or savings account of your choice.
GO GREEN: Suppress paper bills and reduce waste by receiving your statement via email. View the bottom of your eBill for a link to the current edition of SECO News.
New SmartHub Features:
PAY IN ADVANCE: Going out of town and need to schedule a payment? You can schedule a one-time advance payment in the amount you choose (up to $600) through SmartHub.
CLOSED ACCOUNT ACCESS: We’ve opened up SmartHub access for members who have closed/inactive accounts. View and pay a final bill or gain access to prior account history.
PAYMENT NOTIFICATIONS: Members who pay via SmartHub will now receive an immediate payment confirmation via email or text based on your SmartHub notification preference.
All these features are available for members with registered SmartHub accounts. Register your account at SmartHub today. Download the app on the Apple App Store or get it on Google Play.
*SmartHub can schedule payment arrangements for eligible accounts only.
SmartHub Word Search
24/7 account access is available through our SmartHub online account manager. Have fun with our SmartHub word search and enroll your account today.
Surgeo Loves Pets
February is the month of love, and Surgeo is asking for your help to aid domestic animal shelters and wildlife animal rescue organizations. Beginning February 1, for each new Surge MitiGator enrollment, SECO Energy will donate $5 to a local pet shelter that you designate in one of the four major counties we serve.
The Surge MitiGator takes the bite out of damaging surges and spikes caused by lightning, vehicles crashing into SECO poles, small animals, birds or fallen trees. Power surges can damage or destroy household appliances and sensitive electronics such as televisions, computers, stereo equipment and more.
SECO’s meter-based surge arrester helps prevent unnecessary financial loss by reducing surges BEFORE they enter your home through the meter. The Surge MitiGator has a beastly 15-year warranty and is designed to protect your home’s large-motor appliances.
You can lease the MitiGator for only $5.95 plus tax per month plus a $25 installation fee. The purchase price ranges from $349 to $399, with installation included.
SECO’s Surgeo loves pets. Help him share the love by enrolling in SECO Energy’s Surge MitiGator to donate $5 to the pet shelter of your choice. To enroll, visit our Surge MitiGator page and click on the enroll icon to fill out the webform and choose which pet shelter will receive a $5 donation on your behalf from SECO. SURGEO THANKS YOU!
Have you engaged with our virtual assistant Electra who can answer thousands of calls without missing a beat? In December SECO News, we announced a new contest for members who ask Electra for assistance instead of waiting to speak with a representative. Each week, we’ll draw one winner who will receive a $25 gift card.
December’s winners are:
Bruce Cramer from The Villages
William Davner from Ocala
Brenda Jones from Ocala
Judith Pastula from Clermont
Josh Sittig from Bushnell
Read Winners’ Circle next month for more winners. Congratulations, winners!
SECO Energy Celebrates 14 Years of Tree Line USA Recognition
We are celebrating 14 years of being recognized as a Tree Line USA utility by the Arbor Day Foundation. Tree Line USA recognizes public and private utilities who take part in activities that protect and enhance America’s urban forests.
The Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. There are five program standards that SECO Energy achieved to be recognized as a Tree Line USA utility. Utilities must follow industry standards for quality tree care; provide annual worker training in best tree care practices; sponsor a tree planting and education program; maintain a tree-based energy conservation program; and participate in an Arbor Day celebration.
Trees offer many benefits. Did you know that trees can save energy? According to the Arbor Day Foundation, trees that shade structures and block winds can help reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 35%.
Plant deciduous trees to the south, southwest or west side of buildings to provide shade from the summer sun and reduce cooling costs. Florida elm and hophornbeam are native trees that flourish in Central Florida. Plant trees to shade driveways, sidewalks, patios and air conditioning units.
Evergreen trees and shrubs planted on the north and west sides of buildings block winter winds and reduce heating costs. Plantings around the foundation can also help insulate against cold weather.
To learn more about how trees can reduce yearly energy costs, visit our Right Tree, Right Place page.
Read the full February 2021 SECO News online.