Brace yourselves; cold snaps like this bring higher bills

Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21, but Horry County has already been hit by two blasts of Arctic air in the past couple of weeks.   “Daily low temperatures have dipped below the freezing mark several days since the first of the month,” says Garrett Gasque, marketing and energy management representative for Horry Electric, adding that on at least two days, the low was in the teens and the high was just above 32 degrees.

Rest assured, these cold temperatures are going to have an impact on your electric bill.  “We’re advising members to resist the temptation to push their thermostats above the recommended setting of 68 degrees,” says Gasque.  “With the temperatures we’ve had over the past few days, it’s going to be enough of a struggle for heating systems to meet that 68 degree setting,” he continues. “Pushing it up might make you feel warm and toasty at the moment, but you’ll regret it when you get the bill.”

“It’s going to be tough enough for members who set their thermostat at 68 degrees and leave it there,” says Gail Morton, supervisor of customer service for Horry Electric. “With the outdoor temperatures as cold as they have been, heating systems are running longer than normal to just keep the indoor temperature at 68.”

A system running longer means more electricity is used.

Here’s how it works.  The amount of energy used, called consumption, by furnaces, heat pumps or baseboard heaters is directly related to how long they run. Because they are connected to a thermostat, they run when the temperature drops a few degrees below the thermostat set point in your home. When the outside temperature is colder than normal, more heat is lost through the ceiling, walls, floors, and openings such as windows and doors. The thermostat senses this extra heat loss and operates the furnace more often to keep up with the heat loss. The longer the unit operates, the higher the energy consumption, which results in a higher electric bill.

“A spike of higher energy consumption  due to colder weather can have a significant impact on your total bill, especially if extreme temperatures continue for several days” says Gasque.

“So members won’t be totally surprised when the bill comes after this cold snap, we’re proactively encouraging everyone to take advantage of signing up to watch their daily energy use with MyUsage.com,” says Morton. 

MyUsage.com, provided FREE to members, is already used by nearly 800 members of the Cooperative. “We use this and it does help to cut down some,” responded one member when the Cooperative recently posted a notice about the program on the Horry Electric Facebook page. “You can actually see what you use daily. I always know when I wash clothes, it is the highest that day.”

“Being able to watch your use gives you the opportunity to get immediate feedback on what you’re doing at home and the impact it is having on the amount of electricity you’re using,” says another member. “Our family was using an average of 54 kWh per day, but on December 3, when the high was 53 degrees and the low was 29, our kWh use shot up to 74,” they said. 

The green bars represent kWh use and the red line with the dots represent the average temperature each day. As the red dot goes down, the green bar goes up, meaning energy use has increased.

A few days later, when the high for the day was 44 and the low was 20, this same member’s kWh use skyrocketed to 120.  To help  illustrate the dramatic difference, the member has allowed Horry Electric to share the energy use chart for their account that they were able to get access to through MyUsage.com.

A powerful tool.

“Being able to monitor your energy use is a powerful tool when it comes to managing the dollars you spend for the energy used in your home,” says Gasque.  The immediate feedback gives you a chance to alter your behavior and make changes before you get your electric bill.   

Visit horryelectric.com and dig through the comprehensive guide to energy savings to see what you might be able to do to map out a plan of action to get more out of the energy dollars you spend.  There isn’t much we can do about the weather, but we can each take control of how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

One response to “Brace yourselves; cold snaps like this bring higher bills

  1. Horry Electric Cooperative’s all-time, record peak for energy used on the system is 364 MW, which was set in January of 2010.

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