Winter Storm Heather- Extreme Temps Drive Energy Usage

So, you know the saying about pictures speaking louder than words? My energy usage graph (pictured) is practically screaming at me. Even though I try to be as energy-efficient as possible, Mother Nature always has the final say. When she decides to crank up the cold- all bets are off.

I have a fairly modern home that is well-insulated, and I have a heat pump that is less than ten years old. I typically run my thermostat around 69-70 degrees in the winter. On an annual basis, I average around 42 kWh per day. It levels out to roughly 30 kWh during milder seasons- thanks to my HVAC unit taking a break.

No matter what type of heating system you have, when the temperature drops, your system kicks into high gear to keep your place cozy. Imagine this: if it's 20 degrees outside and you've set your thermostat at 65 degrees, that's a 45-degree gap. It only makes sense that your system has to work harder to keep up compared to a more manageable 60-degree outside temperature. It's all about the difference in temperatures, making your system put in that extra effort.

Extreme cold can affect many other things as well. Heat pumps lose most of their efficiency around 30 degrees, and most will go into E-heat mode, or, more simply put, you're running conventional strip heat. There is nothing in your home that eats electricity like strip heat. We also do other things that are not normal, like leave faucets dripping, well pumps kick on more frequently, and we crank up space heaters for ourselves and pets to help fight the chill. All of these extra things add up and contribute to additional usage. It's no wonder I received a usage alert for a whopping 179 kWh in 24 hours- four times my daily average. However, I didn't question it because I knew my furnace was pulling an overtime shift.

How can you avoid the Big Hit from extreme temps? Here's a couple of tips:

  1. Call and set your account up on Levelized Billing. This method takes a rolling 12-month average, so you don't have high bills in the winter and summer. You have a consistent bill all year long.
  2. Set up your daily alerts and reminders from the member portal or mobile app so you can track how much energy you are using and then look for ways to curtail some of it.

To sum it up, extreme temperatures can mess with your energy usage, and it's not just about the thermostat. Mother Nature does her thing, and understanding how your heating system reacts to temperature changes is key. So, whether it's a frigid winter storm or a sudden heat wave, being aware and adopting smart habits can help keep your energy bills in check.