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Weather Could Impact Electric Bills

by Feb 07, 2017

Weather Could Impact Electric Bills- Winter Conservation Tips Included

Temperatures are plummeting for the second time this December. Klickitat PUD would like to be proactive in preparing customers to expect higher bills and urging them to conserve energy. Due to this high December usage, January tends to be the highest monthly bill of the year.

By alerting customers to weather-induced higher bills, Klickitat PUD is hoping to avoid unexpected surprises, like last January, when a spike in electricity bills caught many customers off guard.  

Consistent meter reads.

Klickitat PUD strives to keep the time between meter reads consistent by keeping to the meter reading schedule within 1-2 days, plus or minus. This keeps the number of billing days usage consistent.  We recommend customers with self-read meters provide these reads consistently on the same day each month to avoid day’s usage fluctuations. 

December forecast 15 degrees below November average temperature.

Low temperatures are expected to hold steady and additional precipitation is predicted next week, according to Accuweather. The average local area temperature for December is forecast to be 33 degrees, which is 2 degrees lower than the average for last December.  The dramatic difference between November and December’s average temperatures (15 degrees) could lead to a big spike in energy usage and surprise customers when bills arrive in January.

Heat loss factor increases as temperatures drop.

The colder the weather, the more heat you use. Even a few degrees difference in sustained, colder temperatures can boost electricity use as heaters have to work harder to keep homes and businesses warm.  This is especially true for temperatures we are seeing this winter, because heat loss percentages dramatically increase.  Going from 40 degrees to 30 degrees, heat loss might be 10%; whereas, going from 30 degrees to 20 degrees the heat loss might be 20%.  This happens because heat loss through insulation, doors or windows is not proportionate and increases faster at lower temperatures.

 

Heat pumps are not as efficient at low temperatures.

At around 37 degrees many heat pumps reach what is called the balance point.  At or near this temperature the heat pump needs to run constantly to produce enough heat to maintain a comfortable consistent indoor temperature. This increases usage for homes with heat pumps significantly.    

The utility has provided a list of tips for conserving energy in the winter to try to help customers save money on electricity bills.  We encourage customers to call the utility if they have any questions or concerns.  Klickitat PUD is happy to work out payment plans to relieve temporary hardships and reduce the stress of higher than normal bills as a result of winter usage.

Energy Saving Tips

Here are some low or no-cost tips from the PUD for saving energy:

• Lower your thermostat when you go to bed or when you’re not home. Use an Energy Star® programmable thermostat, so it’s automatic. Every degree lowered can decrease the heating portion of your electric bill by 2 percent (assuming you have electric heat).

• Turn your Christmas tree lights off when you are not home.  Turn outdoor Christmas lights on in the evening and off during the day.

• Make it a habit to shut off lights, computers and other devices when you’re not using them. Consider plugging electronic devices into an energy smart strip.

• Close your fireplace damper when there’s no fire. Leaving it open is like having a 48-inch-square hole in your house.

• Change your furnace filters monthly to eliminate restricted airflow and increase energy efficiency. 

• In the winter, open south facing drapes and blinds during the day to let heat in and close all window drapes and blinds at night.

• Windows can cause some draft and if you keep your drapes closed, that will help insulate the cold from coming inside.  Caulking or weather stripping around the windows is helpful to keep drafts out as well as sealing heavy-duty plastic film to the inside frame of your windows.

• Doors and windows may have cracks and cause a draft.  You can use rags or towels along the cracks to keep the draft out.

• Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home. Set your water heater at 120º F , which is comfortable for most uses. Turn your water heater temperature down or set to vacation mode if you’re going to be away for more than a week. Repair leaky faucets.

• Run only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washers, and wash clothes in cold water.

• Air-dry your dishes or use the air-dry feature on your dishwasher. Use a clothesline to dry clothes when weather permits.

• Unplug laptop or cell phone battery chargers when not in use. Many draw power continuously, even when the device is not plugged into the charger.

• Set your refrigerator between 36- 39º F.  Vacuum the condenser coils regularly to increase efficiency.  Consider using jugs of water to occupy the empty spaces in your fridge. It takes more energy to cool an empty fridge than a full one.

• Use a microwave or toaster oven for cooking and heating small portions.

• Use zonal-heat (baseboard, ceiling or wall heat) to your advantage by only heating rooms that are in use.

A complete list of conservation tips can be found at: http://www.klickitatpud.com/conservation.aspx.