I haven’t touched my thermostat. Why is my bill higher?

why cold weather means high bills

Answer: Power bills following periods of prolonged cold weather can be higher even when you have not changed the thermostat. Heating costs make up the largest percentage of a home’s energy use. When the temperature changes drastically or stays extremely cold, your HVAC unit must run longer to keep your home at the programmed, comfortable setting.

Even the most efficient heating system set to the recommended heat setting of 68 degrees sees much more use in extremely cold weather. During recent cold days, your heating system worked harder and for longer periods of time to make up the 49-degree difference between the 19-degree outside temperature and the programmed 68-degree setting. This causes your home to use more energy and results in a higher power bill. Using space heaters can also increase your energy consumption and traditional wood-burning fireplaces can allow heated air to escape through the chimney.

It helps to understand how much power you’ve used in past months or comparable time periods in previous years. However, keep in mind that this winter is the coldest we’ve had since 2014 so last year’s mild winter energy use won’t compare this winter’s. Weather data shows that in December 2016 and January of 2017 there were only five days where the temperature was below 40 degrees. Compare that to December 2017 and January 2018 where there were 16 days when temperatures fell below 40 degrees. Additionally, there were six days when the low was around 20 degrees and five days when the high was 40 degrees or lower.

Coast Electric is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by those we serve. The cooperative operates at cost to deliver affordable and reliable power to the homes and businesses in our service area. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Factors Other Than Weather Can Also Impact a Power Bill
Our representatives are always ready to assist you with any question you have about your Coast Electric billing statement. Here are some things you may consider researching before calling. It could provide answers to questions or provide valuable information when you call.

Know That No Two Households Are Alike
You do not use energy the same as your neighbor and houses are not built exactly alike, so comparing your electric bill to your neighbor’s is like comparing apples to oranges. It is best to compare your current energy use to past energy use.

Also, consider other factors:

  • Did you have extra guests in your home?
  • Did you start using your swimming pool pump?
  • Have you welcomed a college student home?
  • Have you adopted new hobbies that include the use of power tools, ovens or other appliances?

Know Your Billing and Energy Use History
Study how much power you’ve used in the last 13 months. This history is provided on your billing statement that is mailed (in the case of paperless billing, emailed) monthly. You can compare your most recent month with the last month’s energy use, and last year’s energy use. Coast Electric members can also review energy use history and payment/billing history on the CE on the Go app. This free app can be downloaded to any Android or Apple mobile device.

Check the Days of Use

Check the number of days that are billed for your electric use that month. This varies from bill to bill due to the number of days in a month and the days in a billing cycle.

Remember, Appliances Run Even When You’re Gone

If you leave your home for the day or even an extended period of time, any appliances you leave plugged in will continue to use electricity. Water heaters, the second largest energy user in your home, join refrigerators, freezers, cable boxes, heating and cooling systems, well pumps and other items that use energy while you are away. Check your thermostat setting before you leave; your heating and cooling system will work to stay at that temperature whether you are at home or away.

Consider Appliance Use, Placement and Age

Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances account for a large percentage of your home’s total energy use.

  • The location of refrigerators and freezers can have an impact. Never place a refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or in an unconditioned space such as a garage. The unit will work much harder and use more energy to overcome the excessive outdoor heat during warmer months.
  • Ensure refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation to maintain peak efficiency.
  • If an appliance is more than 15 years old, the efficiency of that appliance may be decreasing significantly. This means it is requiring more energy to do the job.
  • It is important to maintain appliances to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and energy savings.

These factors and more could increase your home’s energy use and result in higher power bills.

After studying your energy use, comparing it to last year and last month, and considering the above information, if you still feel there may be a deeper problem, please call us at 877-769-2372. Our member service representatives are here to assist you.

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