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Cold Weather Leads To More Energy Use

Although our winters are normally mild, this winter has been unusually cold. We have already had several freezes and even snow and ice in our service territory. As a result, many of our members may experience electric bills that are higher than normal.

We applied a power cost adjustment credit to the bills our members recently received, which should have helped reduce those costs. However, we wanted to take the opportunity to explain why your bill may have been high in the first place.

Our last billing cycle covered several cold snaps

You pay for power after you use it, not before. Because of that, we take your actual kilowatt-hour reading and bill you for it about a month in a half later.

The bills our members just received covered energy use from December 18 to January 18, which included several cold snaps (including those snow and ice days). If you stayed home for the holidays, you may have also had a spike in energy use due to extra guests or lighted Christmas decorations.

You can monitor your electricity usage any time by using SmartHub. It makes it easy to see where your usage spiked, like on the day of your holiday party or during your kid’s Christmas break from school. You can also see how your usage changes with the weather with our handy weather overlay.

Your heat ran longer, and more often

On those really cold days, your heater had to run longer and more frequently to keep your home comfortable. That’s because there’s usually a big difference between the temperature outside and the setting on your thermostat.

Think about it this way: On a winter morning, it may have been a freezing 30 degrees outside. To keep your home comfortable, you set the thermostat at 70 degrees. That’s a difference of 40 degrees between the outside temperature and the temperature your HVAC is trying to maintain. It runs more often and for longer periods of time trying to make up the difference and keep you comfortable.

The difference isn’t usually as great in the summer. On a 100 degree day, you might set your AC to 75 degrees to stay cool. That’s a difference of just 25 degrees. Although your AC still works hard to maintain that temperature, the disparity isn’t usually as high as it can be in the winter.

You spent more time indoors

On cold days, you likely spent more time indoors than usual. Which means there were probably lights on in at least one room. You may have spent more time in the kitchen, cooking comfort food or baking holiday treats. Your kids might have spent more time at home because of the Christmas holiday or a bad weather day at school. Or perhaps your grandkids came to visit. They may have passed the time watching TV, playing video games or using the computer. All of these little things add up, and can cause your winter energy bill to be higher than normal.

What can you do to prevent high bills?

Focus on energy efficiency. There’s a lot you can do around your house to help reduce high winter energy bills. When it’s cold outside, set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower. Dress in layers or use blankets to help keep warm without having to adjust the thermostat. Change the direction of your ceiling fan so it’s spinning clockwise. This creates a downdraft and pushes warm air from the ceiling into occupied spaces. You can also try some low-cost measures, such as caulking air leaks or installing efficient light bulbs. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more energy saving advice!

Sign up for levelized billing. The purpose of this plan is to average your annual electricity usage based on the previous 12 months. This allows you to budget the average amount each month, instead of paying a lower bill some months and a higher bill in other months. Call our customer service representatives for more details at 361-364-2220.

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