Why has my power bill gone up this winter?

You sometimes probably wonder why your electricity bill goes up and down, and is higher at certain times of the year. If you’re paying close attention, you may have noticed that the spikes generally occur during the warm summer months and cold winter months. That’s because your heating and cooling system is working harder during these months to keep the inside of your home comfortable. Typically our highest energy use periods of the year will occur in January through March and then again June through September. When there is a larger difference between the outside air temperature and the temperature you have the inside of your home set at, you use more energy to maintain the comfortable setting you like.

Colder temps means more energy use

During the winter, the cold weather means our heating systems are running, sometimes constantly, to give us relief from the frigid temperatures. If you are closely tracking your energy use through our online portal, you will notice that when the temperatures drop, your energy use rises. We also tend to stay at home more when the weather is cold. By spending more time at home, we're also using lights, heat, TVs and other electronics. All of this adds up to an increase in energy use.

In terms of the impact of weather, across all of our members, we show an average increase of 96% in heating degree-days due to colder temperatures from December to January bills. Heating degree-days measures the impact outside temperatures have on heating needs and energy use. It calculates the difference between the average daily temperature and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the point which assumes no heating or cooling is needed. This allows us to compare direct the impact of weather month to month.

December WPCA billing credit

On your December bill, you probably noticed a wholesale power cost adjustment (WPCA) of $27.00 for every 1,000 kWh used. Acutal wholesale power costs for 2020 were lower than budgeted costs, and so in December each of our members received a credit on their bill to adjust for the difference. This is one of the many benefits of being a member-owner of a not-for-profit electric cooperative like Central Electric. YOU, the consumer, reap the benefits and share in the financial success of the company rather than outside shareholders. That’s the “cooperative difference,” YOU are the priority.

So how does the December WPCA credit impact your January bill?

In short, it doesn't. The WPCA credit from December has no impact on your January bill. However, since your December bill was reduced by the WPCA credit, it makes the dollar difference between your December and January bill seem that much more significant. The best way to always look at your bill and to understand changes in your bill, is to look at your energy use. You'll notice that your energy use goes up during the winter and summer months and then back down again in the spring and fall months. Your bill is largely dependent upon the fluctuations in your energy use, which is greatly effected by the weather.

 

So what can you do to help save energy?

Use our online tools.

We have some tools at your disposal that you can put to use to track your energy use:

  • Online Energy Advisor: the Energy Advisor tool gives a personalized energy use analysis with intuitive, interactive bar charts showing at a glance the relative amounts of energy required by the home’s heating and air conditioning, water heating, cooking, refrigeration, appliances, lighting, and even pools and spas. You can explore use and cost comparisons to see how changing weather, usage patterns, and home occupancy affects your wallet.
  • Online Portal: As a member of Central Electric, you have the ability to manage and track your account anytime, anywhere. Whether you need to pay your bill or monitor your energy use, the Member Service Portal has everything you need to stay in touch with your account. If you haven’t done so already, visit the “My Account” tab in the upper left-hand corner to enroll and get started today! Or you can download our FREE mobile app.
  • Alerts & Reminders: Once you login to the online portal, be sure to take a look at the Alerts & Reminders tab. Here you can setup a vareity of different alerts, including a high energy use alert. The alert will send you a notification when your energy use reaches a certain point, that way you can be sure to take a look at what might be impacting your energy use.

Inspect your heating/cooling system.

One of the most commons culprits behind sharp, abnormally large jumps in energy use are issues with the heating and cooling system. If your system isn't working properly, it can work harder and longer than it needs to. This can lead to an increase in energy use. We recommend having your heating/cooling system checked at least annually by a licensed professional to be sure it is working properly.

Adjust your thermostat.

We recommend setting your thermostat to 68 degrees during the winter months and 78 degrees during the summer months. When you are away from home, you can bump the thermostat down during the winter and up during summer by 7 to 10 degrees if you have a programmable or smart thermostat. You can save up to 10 percent on your heating and cooling costs by adjusting your thermostat while you are away.

Upgrade your thermostat.

A programmable thermostat will let you customize your heating schedule to save money, while a smart thermostat gives you even more energy-saving options and allows you to control your HVAC system from anywhere with your smartphone.

Use your drapes.

If the sun shines directly on a particular side of your home, keep the drapes open during the winter and closed in the summer. During the winter, it lets the sun help keep your home warm and during the summer this will help keep the sun from raising the temperature in your home.

Adjust your water heater temperature.

The recommended temperature for your water heater is 120 degrees, but you can bump it down to 115 degrees if you are comfortable with that setting. This will help save on water heating costs and standby energy loss if you have a tank unit.

Make the upgrade to LED bulbs.

They use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Plus, they emit less heat, which means less work for your A/C. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

Plug into savings with power strips.

TVs, computers, gaming systems and other electronics quietly drain electricity when plugged in, even when they’re not in use. Those energy dollars can add up quickly. Switch on savings by plugging these items into power strips that you can switch OFF.

 

These are just a few ways you can help save money during the cold winter months, and also when the temperatures turn warm in just a few short months from now.

for more tips and tools on how to save.