Electricity Use Rises With Summer Temperatures
Increased demand could test the state’s supply
Do you remember the electricity bill you received after this winter’s cold spell? It gave many of our members a bit of sticker shock. Of course, we all use more kilowatt-hours to stay warm when the cold and ice of January come knocking. The unfortunate result is higher-than-usual bills.
Now, as we look forward to summer, a reverse weather pattern holds the potential to cause higher-than-normal bills again. “Compared with last summer,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts, “this summer’s temperatures are forecast to be warmer.” The EIA expects Americans will use more electricity this summer than last and pay more for it. The agency forecasts the typical residential electricity bill to increase 3.4 percent over last summer’s bill.
In the electric industry, we’re faced with what is known as the peak—the time of day when the demand for electricity is highest. The peak exists year round, but it hits Texans the hardest during summer months. From June to September, we typically see high power usage from 3 to 7 p.m.
During the peak hours, demand for electricity is high but the supply remains unchanged. That puts a premium on the power available and your co-op has to pay more for the electricity used during this time.
No one knows how much extra your co-op might have to pay, but the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of the state’s power grid, is predicting record-breaking peak power usage. To keep the system reliable, ERCOT prefers to maintain a small percentage of generation capacity beyond what is needed to meet peak demand. This extra energy capacity is called the “reserve margin,” and it measures the system’s ability to meet demand for power during the hottest days. The current projections for hotter summer weather and increased demand could test the reserve margin.
With that in mind, we all need to get ready for summer by managing our electricity use.
A few home improvements and simple changes in day-to-day habits can add up to big savings this summer. For example, a few tubes of latex or silicone caulk for your windows will help keep cooler air inside your home and the hot air outside where it belongs. If you insulate your hot water pipes, you can cut water heating costs by 4 percent. And remember to set your air-conditioning system thermostat to 78 degrees and maybe even a little higher if you’re planning to be away from the house for a while.
Would you like to make an even greater impact on your bill? Check your home’s insulation. According to energystar.gov, the insulation in your home’s attic should cover joists and be evenly distributed. It is also important to use insulation with a recommended R-value of 30–60. You will not only feel the difference in your home, you’ll help offset peak demand.
At energystar.gov, you’ll find a variety of tools and tips to help maximize your home’s energy efficiency.
Most importantly, San Patricio Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit power provider. That means our mission is to provide you with the electricity you need to improve your quality of life—not turn a profit for investors. An important part of that mission entails providing you the tools you need to manage your electricity use. We want you to stay comfortable this summer with power bills you can afford.