When Winter Temperatures Drop, Demand for Electricity and Energy Bills Rise
If your current NFEC electric bill looks a little higher than usual, most members can blame the cold weather in December and January. Many homes’ electric heating systems have been working overtime to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the home.
Average low temperatures in the area were 28 degrees in December and 23 degrees in January. In addition, there were 21 days in December and 24 days in January where the temperatures dipped below freezing.
Why is my electric usage higher in the winter?
Your heat runs longer, and more frequently
Although not every day is chilly, your heater is likely working overtime to keep your home comfortable in the winter months. That’s because there’s usually a big difference in the temperature outside and the setting on your thermostat. (Especially when the sun goes down.)
Think about it this way: On a winter morning, it may be a brisk 27 degrees outside. To keep your home comfortable, you set the thermostat at 72 degrees. That’s a difference of 45 degrees between the temperature outside and the temperature your home is trying to reach. Such a big difference will likely cause the heat to come on longer, and more frequently, to keep your home warm.
There’s not usually such a high difference in the summer months. On a typical 100-degree summer afternoon, you may set your thermostat at 75 degrees to keep cool. That’s a difference of just 25 degrees. Although your AC is working hard to make up that difference in temperature, the gap isn’t usually as high as it can be in the winter.
You may spend more time indoors
On cold days, your likely spending more time inside. Which means there are probably lights on in at least one room, especially after dark. You may spend more time in the kitchen, cooking hearty meals or baking holiday treats. The TV might be on more often. The kids may all be home. Or perhaps you’re entertaining company. And of course, the heat is on so you all stay comfortable. All of these little things can cause you to use more electricity in the winter.
Our billing cycle runs behind
As the weather warms up, you’ll use the heat less frequently. But that doesn’t mean your bill will immediately come down.
You pay for power after you’ve used it, not before. Because of that, we take your actual kWh usage reading and bill you for it about a month later. So, the bill you receive in February is actually for electricity used in January.
By the time you get your bill, it’s easy to forget the cold fronts that blew through the month before, the holiday guests that used your power, or the school breaks that had the kids at home.
How can I track my energy usage?
Monitor your usage with the Explorer tool in SmartHub®. Along with being able to track your home’s monthly, daily and hourly energy usage, it also can show you firsthand how your electricity use changes with the temperature. Having this information at your finger tips can help you make “real-time” lifestyle adjustments to save for the remaining cold days this winter.
SmartHub also allows NFEC members to:
– Manage account information directly from mobile devices or the web
– Make secure payments
– Notify customer service of account and service issues
– View bills, see payment history, and make payments on one or more accounts
– Set up recurring payments
– Report outages
– Sign up for *budget billing
*This program makes it easier to manage your monthly expenses by evening out the highs and lows of seasonal changes.
What can I do to lower my bill?
5 simple tips to save on winter heating
- Use a blanket or add extra layers. To optimize your thermostat for energy savings, experts recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter. If that’s simply not warm enough for you, consider curling up with a blanket or grabbing an extra sweater before you touch the thermostat dial.
- Turn the heat up one degree at a time. If you need to turn the heat up to stay comfortable, move the thermostat dial up just one degree at a time. Doing this ensures the thermostat is set as low as is comfortable so you don’t accidently overheat your home (and add to your electric bill unnecessarily).
- Turn the heat down during get togethers. If you have people over, turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees. The heat from the extra people in your home should help keep everyone comfortable—and you can save on energy costs.
- Use your ceiling fan. Switch the direction of your ceiling fan so the blades are rotating clockwise. Set at the lowest setting, this should help push warm air down so you stay comfy.
- Open curtains and blinds. In the winter months, keep curtains and blinds open to allow the sun’s heat to enter your home. It can help warm the space so your heater runs less frequently.
If you have any questions about your electric bill, please call us at 580-928-3366.