Extreme cold may affect power usage

Published 8:22 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2018

After years of relatively mild winters, an extended cold snap with frigid temperatures is causing heating systems to work overtime.

Last month, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) experienced its highest December system energy use in over six years, and this first week of January is bringing even colder temperatures.

CAEC urges its members to be proactive with energy conservation during these freezing temperature days.

“The last few winters have been relatively mild for our area, with only a few days of sub-freezing temperatures,” said CAEC Vice President of Customer and Energy Services Chuck Billings. “Since heating and cooling usage can make up nearly half of an electric bill, this extended cold period will have a financial impact.”

There are steps you can take, however, to help ensure you are managing your energy use and getting the most out of your energy dollars:

•Wrap exposed hot water pipes and water heaters that are in unconditioned spaces.

•Make sure to change your air filter once a month.

•Keep drapes closed at night and keep those that don’t get direct sunlight closed during the day, too.

•Keep the fireplace damper closed when it is not in use – leaving it open can bring cold air into the room.

•Caulk around the fireplace hearth, and caulk or weather strip around doors and windows.

•Dress for the weather, even if you are inside. Wearing proper clothing like long sleeves and pants, or wrapping up in a cozy blanket will help combat the temptation to bump up the thermostat.

Using the tips above can certainly help manage energy use, but bills may still be higher than normal in winter months, even with a highly efficient HVAC system.

Why?

When extreme cold temperatures hit, heaters work overtime.

For example, even if you set your thermostat to our recommended 68 degrees in the winter, when it is 19 degrees outside, your system has to work hard to make up that 49-degree difference by cycling on and off more often, increasing energy use.